Have you missed out on a job because of Social Media?

Frank Hutton
Frank in a coffee shop

Like it or not, Social Media affects everyone's life. It's become an integral part of entertainment, corporate communication, customer services, business and prospecting and of course, recruitment. You might be shocked to discover it might mean you've missed out on a career opportunity and you don't even know it...

We all know that LinkedIn plays an important part in finding a role or a role finding you - if you've not discovered that, then check out our previous blog articles. But what about other Social Media sites? And do employers really put any store by them when making recruitment decisions?

Well, a recent survey from Oilandgaspeople.com has stated that 82% of employers have looked up a prospective candidate online and 64% have actually rejected someone prior to meeting them as a consequence. Yes, that's two thirds of them.

The most chilling aspect of this is that you would not even know whether someone had accessed your information much of the time, especially if you were busy working and job hunting (finding a job can feel like a full-time occupation in itself).

Interestingly, 63% of those surveyed also said they found social media a more effective way of sourcing people than print ads. So it looks like it's here to stay.

So what can you do to ensure you don't fall foul of this changed situation:

LinkedIn - make sure you have a decent profile and keep it up to date. Not having a profile is not a solution. For instance, in an article reporting on the survey in HR Review, a recruiter was quoted as judging a business development person without a well-developed LinkedIn profile and network as someone who is unlikely to be a leading candidate for that kind of role. Maybe consider not connecting with just anyone on the planet to reduce access to yourself (1st level connections can see you contact data don't forget, which might lead them to a Google+  account or Youtube); and people in the same interest groups can see what you write even though you're not connected to them directly. But get this one right and employers might not bother to go hunting any further so it can work in your favour. It normally comes up near the top of google searches on your name (try it!).

Facebook - we've all heard tales of people throwing sickies being sacked when they post photos of their day out on Facebook, or the inevitable Christmas Party drunken photo, or an intemperate comment, leading to the same. So only allow your friends to see your photos and timeline, and be a little more choosy about who you accept as a friend. Alternatively, give up the wild parties and ultra extreme political activities and take up fishing. knitting or hang gliding.

Twitter - if you have a personal account, beware of how you use it. Anyone can see a tweet once it's out there, and once it's out there, it's out there forever! Certainly if the account is linked to business then it should conform to the standards required by your employer; and general standards of decency and propriety. I'd advise avoiding politics and religion or anything you feel might cause raised voices in a pub discussion. It's fine for the pub, but not for a global audience. Have fun, but be aware you can be seen after the event, especially if your name is incorporated into your account. Adopting a Twitter persona is a potential way around it, but it feels a bit like being a troll to me. Not so good!

Pinterest - real fun, rapidly growing and definitely one more frequented by females than males. Would a myriad of images of shoes give the right impression if you're trying to carve a niche as a hard nosed lawyer or pictures of puppies if you're an aspiring derivatives trader? It's less problematic here, generally, and certainly avid picture pinners might even enhance their humanness through a balanced showing of items.

Youtube - most of us don't upload material to Youtube, but lots of us (over 1 BILLION!) watch it. Be careful what you share and how you comment; it's more connected now than in times past. If you do have your own channel, then be aware people will find it. If you follow some 'interesting' channels, then maybe think about unfollowing them and just visiting when you want to watch.

Niche sites and job boards - If you are part of a distinct working community, then behaving like a decent person is essential. Social media has equipped people to share good news AND bad news quickly and easily with not much thought, and we all know that folks are more inclined to dish the dirt than hand out praise. That probably goes for emails as well. It's all too easy for someone to forward on something you've written that's a little over the top, and before you know it....

 

The moral of this story is that you now inhabit a world where you are more visible than ever before, which is fantastic for developing your career or your business. It's also potentially disastrous if you allow minor indiscretions and ill-judged moments to ruin an otherwise bright future. Be careful out there... but do get out there. It's amazing! As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn't like to see it written about/posted by someone else, then don't write it/post it.