By: Val Leveson
That recruiters often look at candidates’ social media presence is well known – yet people still use it inappropriately and undermine their jobs search, says recruiting specialists Hays.
“Your online activity can have an impact on your chance of securing a job, particularly if it’s offensive or contradicts the professional image or experience you are portraying to hiring managers,” says Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays Australia and New Zealand.
Tania Howard of Talent Seed, a recruitment agency that specialises in placements for small to medium sized businesses, says not all employers look at social media, but it’s becoming more common.
“A few years ago you would never have put a picture on a CV, because it gave the employer the ability to discriminate against you if they didn’t like your `look’. But now everyone has a social media presence, it’s there for public viewing. So people think `why not’?”
She says Talent Seed looks at social media: “It’s in the public domain, we have not asked to get into anything that’s private.
“For us we’re not looking at `looks’, it’s more about behaviours, for example, with someone who we weren’t 100 per cent on after a phone interview – her tone made us think she may be a bit flighty – on social media she seemed to be a real “girly girl” while the job required someone who stood on their feet eight hours a day and it was full on. We felt she probably wouldn’t stay interested.”
She says one thing that’s quite easy to pick up on on social media is drug use.
“We can see if people have liked various drug sites.
“I’ve seen photos on Instagram of people lighting up joints.”
Hays says it’s important that profiles on LinkedIn agree with the CV a candidate presents.
Howard says, “Clients are more fussy about this than we are. Sometimes people don’t put all their jobs on LinkedIn. They just put the ones that are most relevant. They don’t see their LinkedIn profile as a CV – it’s there just to link with other business people.
“I think if you can explain that to prospective employers, that’s not a problem, but when you start to have dates that are completely wrong, or if on LinkedIn the candidate says they were somewhere for two years, and then on the CV it says they were there for four years, those discrepancies are a problem and can mean the candidate doesn’t get an interview.”
Another big social media mistake for the job hunt is negative rants and bad language, Howard says.
“Ages ago there was a guy in a LinkedIn group who was having a complete rant saying he couldn’t get a job because he was black.
“I pointed out that he didn’t have a picture on his profile – and so I had no idea what colour he was until he said so. I said what I reacted to was your use of the ‘f’ word on a professional platform. His rant stopped.”
Howard says social media goes beyond sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc – “there are various online jobs and other groups that people join. On that people often do txt speak – but sometimes it can be off-putting as it can seem unprofessional.”
Get involved in industry groups and conversations on LinkedIn advises Howard.
“That’s a way of getting your name known in the field. Obviously it’s helpful if the group is local – so prospective employers are most likely in the group.
“My advice would be if you don’t want people to look at your profile, lock it down while you’re doing the job search. Think about what image you want to portray.
“But assume anything you post online is accessible to a potential employer.”
To companies, Howard says, it’s worth looking at social media, but it’s important to consider context.
“Remember there are discrimination laws, and you’re assessing for unsavoury behaviour, not against look.
“A quick check could give you a much more holistic view of someone – positive as well as negative.”