Social Media Screening: a Candidate’s Perspective

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EyesIs it really possible that our social media profiles affect what hiring managers and recruiters think of us? Can our online social behavior provide strong indicators of the type of worker we’ll be? Perhaps it can, or perhaps it’s all just speculation. Whatever the case, it’s frightening to think that hiring managers and recruiters make such judgement calls when they hardly know anything about us. Or is that really the case? We as social-media users so freely offer up personal details and moments of our lives, often without hesitating or reflecting on the repercussions.

The fact is, 9 out of 10 surveyed companies are using social media in their recruiting strategy. It’s not a trend, it’s a way of conducting business. And why not? Social recruiting is proving to be a strategy worth implementing. Interestingly enough, 73 percent of social hires have been successful. About 43 percent of organizations are finding that the quality of candidates has improved for them.

This means that people need to be mindful of the content published on their social media networks. Why? Because a third of employers have rejected candidates based on something they found on their social profiles. Remember, 75 percent of hiring managers and recruiters are checking candidates’ social profiles, and 67 percent of them will react negatively to posts of sexual nature. We can’t just carelessly react to content that pushes us to freely express our opinions. We have to watch what we share.

“You Better Check Yo’ Self, Before You Wreck Yo’ Self”

In the words of famous rapper Ice Cube, “You better check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self.” While this statement’s original purpose differs from what I am trying to convey, we can see it as a good message for job seekers and employees: remain vigilant in the social recruitment process. If you don’t check your social media activity, then you may find yourself belonging to a group of candidates whose candidacy was reconsidered  based on content that was found in their social profiles, which has happened to 42 percent of candidates. This sort of thing was probably unimaginable 20 years ago. Posting certain content in your social media accounts can be damaging. Posts that mention illegal drug usage will earn a negative reaction from 83 percent of recruiters. Posts with profanity earn a 65 percent disapproval rate. And guess what — content containing spelling and grammar errors is viewed negatively by 61 percent of recruiters.

If it hasn’t started to make sense to you already, then you need to get with the social times, because social-media privacy is almost non-existent. Recruiters focus their attention to candidates’ and professionals’ social media profiles because of the information these things provide to them so freely. And, with social networks like LinkedIn, why wouldn’t they?

But should recruiters lurk on our more personal accounts, like Facebook or Twitter? It’s debatable in my opinion, but the reality is that 83 percent of job seekers use Facebook to view job postings. Still, when social media users leave all kinds of content laying around for people to find, then we’re fair game in the job market. So be smart, and don’t leave yourself out to dry by making costly social media mistakes. Be understanding of what social recruiters are looking for on specific social media channels.

Be Social The Right Way

Around 94 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find, contact, and keep-in-touch with candidates, and 65 percent use Facebook and 55 percent use Twitter to vet candidates. Recruiters use LinkedIn to learn about candidates’ professional experience and specific skills. Recruiters check candidates’ Facebook profiles to assess their cultural fit with an organization. Basically, our LinkedIn profiles need to show what we’ve accomplished and what we’re capable of. Our Facebook and Twitter profiles should say something fun and engaging about our personalities. People want to know you’re capable of doing your work, but also friendly enough to get along with coworkers.

Some of us have to share close working spaces with our colleagues, which makes cultural fit even more important during the hiring process. Plus, people forget sometimes that we spend anywhere from 40 to 50 hours per week at work, which means we spend a significant portion of time with our colleagues. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is part of the reason why employers consider candidate personalities during the hiring process. So, if you haven’t given much thought to the type of content you’re sharing in your social media profiles, it’s worth reassessing your social presence and touching up your profiles if you haven’t done so recently. Remember: 65 percent of hiring managers use social media to see how candidates present themselves professionally.

Whether you are actively job-hunting or not, you need to present your digital self the right way. Remember, our LinkedIn and Facebook profiles play pivotal roles during the social recruitment process. Take the time to set up your LinkedIn profile to highlight your skill sets, published works, and other accomplishments. Don’t forget to take steps that make your LinkedIn profile visually stick out.

Facebook is obviously different from LinkedIn. People need to remember that hiring managers and recruiters will check our shared images and evaluate the conversations we have with people on Facebook. However, not everyone believes in censorship, and that’s okay, but you can still take steps to increase your Facebook privacy and security if you want to limit what hiring managers and recruiters can see. Just remember, recruiters evaluate our social media profiles, so we should try to present our best digital selves if we’re seeking new career opportunities.

By Fernando Ramirez