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What do your socials say about you?

In this digital age, we’re sure it’s not news that your social media presence matters when you’re applying for a new job, however do you realise the extent to which potential employers value this resource in their decision-making process? The use of social media in hiring decisions has seen a huge rise in importance in the advent of the pandemic, and one of the downfalls of video interviews is the lack of body language, so employers are looking for alternative methods to discover if someone is a good culture fit for their business.  

90% of employers say they now consider a candidate’s social media activity in their hiring decisions, with 98% conducting at least some background research online1. And furthermore, 79% of employers say they have rejected a candidate based on their social media content2. It’s not just about your personality either. Social media platforms are becoming a huge deal when it comes to actually finding potential candidates, with our recent figures suggesting that around 40% of hires are now originating from LinkedIn.  

We recently had a conversation with one of our digital agency clients, who told us that when hiring, their focus is just as much on aptitude (gained from your CV, interview, skills and previous experience) as it is on attitude, and they always google their candidates to see what insights they can glean from their online persona. If a client is struggling to choose between two candidates, your search results can be the thing that tips the decision one way or the other.  

The Big Social Media No-Nos.
Here are some topics and issues that could be regarded very unfavourably by a prospective employer when reviewing your social media presence. Some of these are self-explanatory, but in the interests of being thorough, we’ll mention them anyway. 

  • Aggressive posts and profanities. (65% of employers state this would be a turn-off3
  • Any illegal activity. (In particular, 85% said they’d be discouraged by illegal drug use3. We’re not really sure why this isn’t 100%!) 
  • Very unpopular or controversial opinions.  
  • Public badmouthing. (This includes complaining about your previous work or boss) 
  • Controversial or inappropriate humour, particularly surrounding potentially sensitive topics.  
  • Public negativity and oversharing.  
  • Excessive alcohol use (obviously the obligatory pub pics with the gang are fine, we’re talking about being passed out in a mountain of tinnies and regret)  
  • Provocative content (71% stated this would be a reason for rejection3
  • Bad spelling and grammar. (61% stated this would be a reason for a rejection3

The other big thing to consider here is if you’ve been tempted to buff your CV up a bit with some “creative truths,” social media can often be your undoing. Particularly if your dates don’t stack up with your LinkedIn Profile!  

So, what are they looking for then? 
Employers are looking to see if you are a good culture fit for the organisation. You can say what you think an employer wants to hear in an interview but it’s much harder to flex your whole social media persona around a specific role. So they check out your social media pages to look beyond the interview persona to get a glimpse of the real you. Employers will look for all sorts of cues in this regard. They want to see how you communicate and interact with others and whether your natural tone of voice is a good fit. This is even more important if you’re applying for digital marketing, social media, or content related roles. 

Tips for using social media to compliment an application. 
With all the above in mind, we’ve compiled some top tips for those looking to ensure that employers like what they find when visiting your social media profiles. 

  1. Clean up your existing accounts.
    It’s worth reviewing your current social media activity for content that might not make the best impression with a prospective employer. It’s easier to get into this mindset when not looking at your own accounts, so you could perhaps get a friend to help you with this, and you can review each others. Google yourself (including any commonly shortened versions/alternative spellings of your name), and review what comes up. If there’s anything you’d like taken down, you should contact the website owner to ask them to remove it.
  2. Consider dual profiles and using privacy settings.
    Sometimes – particularly when your role requires you to be highly active on social media – there can be merit in creating specific accounts for your professional purpose, where you only post industry/work-related content. You can also use privacy settings to filter what content certain groups of people are able to see. For example, on Facebook you can control who is able to see your content on a post-by-post basis. LinkedIn allows you to do similar with public posts and those only available to your connections or certain groups. You could consider making personal accounts private or using pseudonyms so they’re less likely to be found.
  3. Acknowledge significant wins and personal projects.
    Everybody likes good news – so shout about your professional achievements and any qualifications you’ve earned. Talk about personal projects that you’ve embarked on, (particularly those that are relevant to the field) and talk about what experience you’ve gained from them. Employers also like to see what else you’ve got going on besides work, so don’t forget to include those where you think they might be appropriate or add something to the party.
  4. Consider a content strategy.
    Particularly useful should you decide to use dual accounts – a content strategy will help structure your posts and activity in order to help establish yourself as an active industry participant. Comment on and share relevant content, keeping an eye on some industry news sources that you can proactively pick content from. If you feel confident enough, you could even consider writing blogs and discussion articles on interesting topics within the industry, to help present yourself as an expert in the field.

And finally… be yourself! 
Employers are primarily looking to find out if you’ll be a good fit for their organisation so consider your social media presence as the best, public-facing version of you! Always put your best foot forward and you’ll land the job that’s best suited to who you are and who you want to be.


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