Could Facebook damage your career prospects?

The explosion of social media is one the greatest phenomenons of the 21st Century. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and other social media sites have changed the way we communicate and share information. The popularity of social media is a direct result of how it has made communication and information transfer easier than ever before. Social media enables us to share not only pictures but also our likes, dislikes and increasingly our entire life-story. With Facebook alone having over 1 billion users and growing there is no denying the collective worldwide appetite for social media.

Does the use of social media matter from an employment point of view?

Several surveys have shown that employers are using Facebook and other social media sites to research candidates before hiring. Remember the decision to hire relies on the employer obtaining information on whether the candidate is suitable for the position and organisation. Employing the right candidate will contribute to the success of the organisation whilst employing the wrong candidate could be disastrous. Employers therefore often try to acquire as much information as possible before accepting or rejecting candidates, this can include checking a candidates social media usage.

Top 5 reasons for employers rejecting candidates 

A 2009 survey of over 2,500 hiring managers and human resource professionals in the USA showed over 45% used social media sites to research candidates. The 5 top reasons for employers rejecting candidates after screening candidates online are as follows:

  1. Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 53%
  2. Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs – 44%
  3. Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients – 35%
  4. Candidate showed poor communication skills – 29%
  5. Candidate made discriminatory comments – 26%

We should also mention that 24% rejected candidates who had lied about their qualifications.

What can you do to improve your social media presence?

Prior to submitting an application consider doing an audit of your social media accounts. This could help minimise the risk that you will be rejected because of your social media presence.

Here are 3 things that you could do as part of your social media audit to improve your social media outlook:

  1. CV Match. Start by checking that the information contained in the application matches the information on your social media sites. It’s easy for employers to double check the information that you provide.
  2. Privacy Settings. Consider changing your privacy settings so that your profile is not visible to the public. You can check with each social media site that you use on the various privacy settings available.
  3. Time Travel. Remember to to back in time and check your social media sites for old comments, likes and photos. If they do not reflect positively on you consider removing (or asking friends to remove).

What are the alternatives?

We hope this article has been of use and has shown that whilst social media is a great way to communicate and share information, it can also damage your prospects of finding employment. Forums and discussion groups can provide an alternative way to sharing information and discussing topics such as what to expect at an interview and what to expect from choosing to study a particular course.

Further Information

To find more careers articles visit: Careers Advice

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