Great is our admiration of the orator who speaks with fluency and discretion.” Marcus Tullius CiceroThe whole issue of potential employers asking job candidates for Facebook and other social media passwords so they could look at someone’s profile has seemed to blow over. I never really thought it was a real issue, but a few very isolated situations that got media spun.
However, a survey by online job board giant Careerbuilder.com (To see the survey: http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?id=pr691&sd=4%2F18%2F2012&ed=4%2F18%2F2099) paints a clear picture – employers may not be asking for passwords but they are looking at your social media footprint, specifically Facebook, Linkedin and to a lesser degree, Twitter. The survey reports that 37% of hiring employers research candidates using social media prior to hiring.
But here is the most important number:
34% of hiring managers said they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate. That is high for sure.
And what did they see that turned them off to a job candidate?
Close to half stated provocative/inappropriate photos or references to drug or alcohol use (49% and 45% respectively). The next largest groups were poor communication skills (35%), bad-mouthing a prior employer (33%) and discriminatory comments regarding race, gender or religion (28%). Last – a real no-no – candidate lied about their qualifications – a shocking 22%.
What about the other side – what did hiring managers see that attracted them to a candidate?
It goes both ways – you can strengthen your position and brand through social media if you are aware of how it can help professionally. 58% of survey respondents stated that they got a better feel for the individuals personality (and likely thought it was a good fit to the job and culture of the company), 55% thought their social media footprint supported their professional qualifications, 54% found the information supported the background information the candidate provided. The list also included demonstrated good communication skills (49%), creativity (44%) and strong references for the candidate (34%).
My recommendations …
I heard once someone said, “If you don’t want your grandmother to see it, don’t post it”. Great advice.
Clean up your profiles, lock down security so only you can control what is posted, beware of the inclination to “pile-on” a situation that may be deemed to be unprofessional, offensive or in poor taste. Once if it out there, no way to get it back! Just look at some of the posts recently over the Paula Deen flap – some may come back to bite candidates as the issue is explosive.
And this does not just go for those in the job market – it goes for anyone who is managing their career for now and for the future. Hide the red cups – keep the party photos off your profile, never rant and watch what issues or posts you comment on. I know it seems like your wings are getting clipped – but it is all about your brand, image and development.
It is okay to be humble – many leaders are. They know how and when to communicate, and when to bite their tongue. Be a leader – be humble, and above all others.
And thank you for reading this. – Dan
President & Founder
Next-Act, Division of DVG, Inc.
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