Social Media can be a Two-edged Sword for Candidates

Tools are amazing things.  Having the right tool for the job can make all of the difference, but using the wrong tool can be a huge headache and using a tool incorrectly or inappropriately can lead to frustration and even more challenges.  Hammers are one example.  Using a hammer with a nail is great, but using a hammer to drive a screw is not so good.  Likewise, saws can be helpful, but in the hands of someone who is untrained or inexperienced, a saw can lead to damage or worse.

Social Media is a valuable tool.  LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook can be great tools in your job search if used appropriately.  Recent statistics show that over 500 million people use LinkedIn and that there are over 10 million job postings on this network.  Twitter has over 320 million users and the network continues to evolve in how firms and job seekers use the network.  Facebook, with over 2 billion users, launched a new tool for job seekers earlier this year in an effort to be more relevant in the job search market.

All of these tools are great, but there are problems.  People use each of these networks in different ways and Facebook can be as much of a problem as a help for many job seekers based on how they use their account.  Many firms are using social media and search technology to see what their potential job candidates do outside of work and the number of firms who say they pass on candidates because of their social media presence continues to increase.  Hunt Scanlon shared information this week that says over 54% of employers bypassed a prospect because of what they learned through social media. The article goes on to share more about employer usage of social media, so I am offering a few tips that will help job seekers avoid the traps that may be waiting for them out in the social media world.

  1. Do searches on yourself to see what others might find.  I would suggest using multiple search engines to do this (Google, Bing, etc.) and also use variations of your name and previous employers or organizations you might have been a part of.  Even look for images or videos that might have your name attached.  Be wary of others who have the same or similar name as yours.  Even this can come back and bit you if you don’t know what is there.
  2. Be cautious in what photos you share on any social network.  Facebook is typically the biggest culprit here, but even photos on LinkedIn and Twitter can be problematic.  You can say that your account represents your opinion, but if that opinion clashes with the culture of a prospective employer, the cards will not fall in your favor.
  3. Update your profiles often, especially your LinkedIn profile.  I am always shocked by how lax many professionals are when managing their social media profiles.  Many talent acquisition professionals check LinkedIn first and if your profile is lacking, your contacts will lag.  You need to put your best foot, and face, forward when you have a social media account and take time to review that what you say and post represents you in the best light.

I could offer more, but these three suggestions will keep most of you busy.  Social media can slice both ways and you want to make sure that the cut falls in your favor.

Don’t sever your best efforts through thoughtless or tasteless usage of social media accounts.