Social media increasingly critical in the job market
As social media becomes increasingly ingrained in our society, it’s also becoming an important part of the workplace. Whether candidates accept it or not, their social media profiles, or even a lack of a profile, can greatly influence how they are perceived in the workplace.
A recent study by Harris Poll and CareerBuilder surveyed 2,300 human resources professionals and found 70 percent use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. That number was up from 60 percent the previous year and only 11 percent in 2006. Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said most workers now have some sort of online presence. More than half of respondents who do consider social media profiles said they look for a “professional online persona” and information that supports their qualifications for the job. Another quarter of respondents said they view social media to see what others are posting about the person or that they look for reasons not to hire a candidate. In addition to looking directly at a candidate’s social media profiles, 70 percent said they were using search engines to search the candidate’s name on the web.
“This shows the importance of cultivating a positive online persona. Job seekers should make their professional profiles visible online and ensure any information that could negatively impact their job search is made private or removed,” Haefner said.
The implications of social media in job searches are bigger than ever, and more than half of hiring managers have found content on profiles that caused them to pass on a candidate for an open role. Some of the most common reasons included “inappropriate” posts of photos, information about them drinking or using drugs and discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion. Other things candidates should avoid is bad-mouthing a former employer, lying about qualifications or portraying poor communication skills.
While job seekers should avoid things that could portray them in a negative fashion, they also can use social media to their advantage to build a positive online persona. Rick Gillis, job search expert and author of “Promote!” (CreateSpace, 2015) said many workers fail to get out in front of the right audience and promote themselves in a commercial capacity. “As long as you want to be working, you really need to be out there in the public sharing your persona, speaking to your skills, experience and latest accomplishments,” Gillis said.
While hiring managers can use social media to screen out negative candidates, four in 10 also said they found content on a social networking site that caused them to hire a candidate. In many cases, this was background information that supported their professional qualifications, great communication skills and a professional image.
While Facebook and Twitter can have value, many experts point to LinkedIn as the most effective network for job seekers.
Cheryl Lynch Simpson, job search and LinkedIn coach, suggests active job seekers post two to three status updates weekly and engage in discussion in a combination of LinkedIn groups and industry blogs. She also urges them to write one or two articles per month. “I recommend this for jobs seekers in most industries and experience levels, from entry-level to executive roles. There simply is no better way to capture the attention of (hiring managers),” Simpson said.
Social media is becoming increasingly important for hiring managers because it offers information about a person they otherwise might not discover on a resume or application. As long as the information is not used in an unlawfully discriminatory way, it’s a valid and effective tool, according to The Society for Human Resources Management. To avoid discrimination claims, employers often wait until later in the interview process, usually around the time of references and background checks. While candidates should strive to clean up and improve their profiles, Simpson said one of the worst things is to have no social media presence.
“I’ve had clients passed over for jobs because they refused to engage with social media. In this case, the recruiter assumed the client in question was averse to new learning,” Simpson said.
— CTW Features
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