Your social media profile can knock you off a shortlist

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Hoping for new job or promotion?  Then be sure to pause before you post on your social media networks, even if your privacy settings are on.

We know that through shares and retweets, posts and pictures can easily show up on the radar of someone thinking of hiring or recommending you.  And how you express yourself online, and what your pictures show, matter a lot.  It can be all it takes to get you cut from the shortlist.

We just can’t say it enough — it’s now standard practice for hiring managers to look at who you are, not just in person, but as you appear in the digital world.    Look at the findings of surveys of hiring managers, and HR offices, and see for yourself.

  • More than 93% of employers look at the social media profiles of candidates they’re thinking about hiring.
  • Over 50% of employers say they’ve eliminated job applicants because of what they saw on their Facebook or other social media networks.
  •  66% of hiring managers say they hold poor grammar and spelling, even in tweets, against a candidate.
  • 73% of employers would not consider giving job candidates a chance to discuss/ explain any online content associated with their name.   That means  Only 27% say they would.

Warning: Emotions are running high online these days

Research confirms that many buttons are being pushed in this time of Trump. More and more people are reacting online to events and opinions in ways and language far stronger than normal.

It’s not what you say in personal posts, but how you say it that can affect your career

To be clear, the issue for hiring managers is not that you have a personal point-of-view — providing of course that it’s not discriminatory or hate-mongering.    It’s the way in which you may choose to express yourself that can be of concern.

Here’s what can get you kicked off the island:

Profanities, crude insults,suggestions of aggression or violence, badmouthing past employers, poor grammar, boasting of illegal behaviour, and pictures and posts of a sexual nature and/or suggesting excessive drinking, drug use, etc.

What’s their problem?

The hiring managers worry about lack of judgement.

 It boils down to this:  How you manage your reputation and your behaviour online indicates how you might talk about your employer, colleagues, clients, or even segments of the employer’s market online.

Are you hot-headed?  Do you tweet insults in anger?  Do you post disparaging and crude remarks that are incendiary? Do you show  poor judgement in protecting your own privacy and image?     

How fast do we typically hit send? Super fast, judging by the stats.

  • 200 million tweets are posted each day.
  • The average Facebook user posts 90 pieces of content per month.
  • 48 hours of video are uploaded per minute on YouTube.

These stats are presented by Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief at Mashable.  In his eye-opening Ted Talk, Ostrow asks, “Many of us have a second self, a virtual personality composed of posts and tweets stored in the cloud. What happens to that personality after you die?”

For The Bagg Group, a long-time leader in recruitment in Canada, with five thriving divisions covering almost all sectors, the more pertinent question is, “What happens to that personality when you job-hunt?”  The answer:  It can haunt you

Although you should  (and we urge you to!)  set your privacy settings so that only friends can see your page, the reality is we just are not that hard to find online.

The six degrees of separation 

The idea that everyone is just ‘six steps’ away from anyone else is so true in the digital age.  When you job-hunt, especially in the city where you have friends, someone in your online friend group is more than likely to know someone who knows someone.  Your posts travel along a big daisy chain.

5 ways to manage your online image from the experts at Bagg Pro, Bagg Technology Resources, Bagg @ Your Services, Bagg Managed Resources and Turn Key Staffing Solutions:

Distinguish your name:  If you have a relatively common name, distinguish it so your online profile isn’t confused with someone else’s.  You can add in a middle initial, a middle name, or a professional designation.  (Adding just the name of your city may not be enough.)

Take down pictures that you wouldn’t want a hiring manager to see:  And take care with photo tags. The problem with getting tagged in pictures is that it takes control of your reputation out of your hands.

Set up a professional Facebook page:   This is a a great idea. When people do a search on you, they’ll see a page that gives them free access to your professional interests – instead of your personal life. This is called “reputation management” and it pays off for candidates!

The Bagg Group’s 5 recommendations for an impressive professional page

  • Post articles and updates about trends and news in your industry.
  • Follow professional sites, people and organizations that support your professional brand.
  • Participate and support causes tied to your professional interest.
  • Share positive discussions and post kudos to those contributing to your professional field, and avoid negative discussions.
  • Post pictures about volunteer work that enhances your professional brand.

Reminder: Your friends on Facebook are also a good source of networking for you so it doesn’t hurt to share some interesting posts about your work interests on your personal page as well.

Don’t vent about work frustrations or your job-hunt online:   At The Bagg Group, we’ve placed more than 60,000 candidates in full-time, contract and temporary placements over our 45 year history.  We work with candidates day in, day out.

We have enormous respect and understanding for job-hunters, and we get that it’s not easy.  We also know that support from friends and family is essential for your wellbeing. But we urge you to talk things over face-to-face, or call, text or private message.

The last thing you  want is to let professional contacts or potential employers consider you to be desperate, bitter, or angry because that does hurt your employment chances.

You can also find support groups for job-hunters and join with a username that is not your actual name.

Walk it out before you shout it out:  MRI imaging of the brain confirms when we’re aroused about an issue, the emotional centres of our brain are activated and drive our response.  When we cool down, the parts of the brain that are involved in logical, rational thinking take over.  

To ensure against outbursts, put some distance between you and your instant urge to react.  The best way to do this is to quickly get up from wherever you are, and move away from the screen.  Get a coffee, a water, come back and read something completely different that does not aggravate you, and then consider what you want to say, why you want to say it, and the most thoughtful fair way to make your point.

The science doesn’t lie — even just five minutes can improve your judgement immeasurably. If you really need to let loose, write it on a word document or as a draft post, but don’t hit publish until you …pause.

Gene Hayden, author of The Follow-Through Factor: Getting from Doubt to Done (Random House), is a career coach and writer-in-residence for The Bagg Group

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