Social media and online presence are a growing part of our culture and how we connect with people. The job search process has changed accordingly. For potential job candidates, this means that if you have profiles online, they’re fair game for an employer. Your resume is no longer the only source of information an employer will have.
Whether it's at a big or small business, your social media and social networking sites have the power to secure you a job—or prevent you from being hired.
The role of social media in the hiring process
A 2018 survey from CareerBuilder found that seventy percent of employers check the social network platforms of potential job candidates. The same survey reported that over half of employers have found content on a candidate’s social media that caused them not to hire the candidate. Depending on your job, social media can have an incredible amount of weight in an employer’s hiring decision.
This is because many people feel comfortable posting personal content on social media—content that can’t be or won’t be included on a resume. Companies use social media to get a more complete picture of job applicants.
Some potential employers will ask outright for a job candidate’s social media handles and let you know that they conduct social media searches. However, if a company doesn't ask, this does not mean they won't check into your accounts; assuming that isn't smart.
What social media sites do employers check?
There is no concrete list of the types of social media sites that an employer will look at. Any account you have, whether it be more personal like Instagram or professional like LinkedIn, can be checked. Some employers will only look at your Facebook profile; others will do a thorough check of your entire online presence.
That being said, according to a survey done by the human resources firm Paychex, Facebook and LinkedIn are the most common sites that hiring managers check, followed by Twitter and Instagram.
Creating job-friendly social media accounts
The idea of a potential employer viewing your social media accounts doesn’t have to be concerning. Social media can be an asset or a liability to your job search—or it can simply be a neutral picture of who you are. As long as the content you post isn’t hurting your chances–that is, nothing inappropriate, mean or unfavorable–it’s fine to continue posting as normal.
However, popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter can also be fantastic tools to help you secure a job position. Think of social media as a casual resume. You want to show an employer that you are a well-rounded and intelligent individual with a wide range of skills. You want them to know that you will go above and beyond in the position, but also fit right in with your coworkers.
There are many ways to present this idea through social media. Think of your accounts as a marketing strategy. You're using a form of digital marketing—social media marketing—to advertise your talents and secure yourself a position where you will shine.
The Dos and Don’ts
- Do post accomplishments that you’re proud of. However…
- Don’t brag. Posting accolades is great, but an employer is not looking for somebody who is potentially self-centered or overly confident. Show your best accomplishments and why you are proud of them, but do not take it too far.
- Do show that you can interact with others online in a positive and professional manner. For social media sites like Facebook, which end up showing your interactions with others on your own profile, this is especially helpful.
- Don’t post content attacking or badmouthing another person.
- Do have a professional username. @JohnDoe is a good choice; @CatLover33 is not.
- Don’t post inappropriate content. Provocative photos and videos, foul language, and anything related to drugs or alcohol all fall under this category.
- Do make sure there are no discrepancies between what you post and what you have on your resume. This is a red flag to potential employers.
- Don’t post too frequently. This makes it appear as if you have nothing better to do with your time. It can also indicate whether or not you use social media on company time.
- Do present yourself in a well-rounded way.
Presenting yourself in a well-rounded way can be difficult, especially since you also want to show an employer that you’ll be good at a job. But say you applied to work for a professional basketball team and your social media feed is exclusively videos of you playing basketball. This definitely shows the employer that you’re dedicated—but it also comes across as one-dimensional.
You want to show an employer that you are a complete person, and that is exactly what they’re looking for when checking on your social media accounts. Share information that creates a complete picture of you as an employee and individual.
Don’t delete your accounts entirely
Although deleting your account may seem like an easy fix if you don’t want employers searching you up, this can reflect very poorly on a potential job candidate. Not only can deleted accounts still show up in Google searches, but according to a survey from Business News Daily, forty-seven percent of employers would not call a candidate for an interview if they can’t find them online. Deleted accounts make it appear as if a candidate has something to hide.
If you don't want potential employers to view your accounts, it's best to make them private. An employer can still ask you to view your social media accounts, but private accounts means they can’t check up on you without your knowledge.
As the presence of companies on social media grows, social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can even be useful when contacting a company that you'd like to work for. If you're someone with a large personal social media following and want to do a brand deal, for example, reaching out via instant messaging in real time can help you connect with the right people.
Social media is powerful, and what you post online says a lot about who you are as a person. Make sure that when an employer sees you online, they see content that shows off your skills and makes you look like a great fit for any company.
Social media etiquette in the workplace
Congratulation! You got the job. But the caution doesn't end with a job offer; self-monitoring your social media accounts and making sure you're posting acceptable content is even more important after you've been hired. Now, you're a representative of your company, both in-person and online.
Check to see if your employer has a social media policy for employees that's already in place. It will tell you what is considered acceptable online behavior for your company, which clears up any confusion. If there isn't a social media policy for your company, you can ask if there's any unofficial rules you should be aware of.
Regardless of policies, you should continue to follow the same dos and don'ts listed above. Keep from posting inappropriate content and always remain respectful online. You don't need to explicitly promote your company on your account, unless asked. But remember that your actions still reflect on your employers.
Should I follow my coworkers' accounts online?
Believe it or not, the answer to this question has been debated since social media became popular. Some people say that it's better to keep private and work lives divided. Others recommend doing it for improved morale and connection between coworkers. In truth, it will largely depend on your job, the size of your company, and the relevance of social media to the work you do.
If you work in a close-knit company where everyone knows about each others' personal lives, it makes more sense to follow your coworkers online versus if you have a cubicle job that would require you to do some searching to even find your coworkers' accounts in the first place. Similarly, if you work on a team in a digital field—like social media marketing—following your coworkers may even help what you do at work.
However, if you follow your coworkers on social media, the most important thing to remember is don't cause drama. Make sure that you don't take online disputes with you to the office; your employer will not take kindly to that, regardless of your job or how close you are to your coworkers.