Who are you, really?
That's a question most employers want to know the answer to. Beyond your cover letter and resume or CV, what are you about? Are you trustworthy, respectful, responsible? Are you a hard worker? Will you follow through on promises?
Because most people are on their best behavior during the interview process, it can be hard for hiring managers or employers to tell. So they do the same thing your Bumble date does: they Google you.
In particular, they look at your Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media profiles you have publicly available.
Then they browse. Or scope. Or scour.
According to a survey by CareerBuilder, a full 70 percent of employers "use social media to screen candidates before hiring."
Even more striking is the follow-on statistic: 54 percent of employers surveyed said they chose not to hire a candidate based on content found on their social media profile(s).
Of those hiring managers who chose not to hire someone due to their social media presence, the top reasons given for why were that candidates had:
1. Posted provocative or inappropriate photos, videos or information (39 percent)
2. Posted information about drinking or using drugs (38 percent)
3. Made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion (32 percent)
4. Bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee (30 percent)
5. Lied about qualifications (27 percent)
6. Had poor communication skills: 27 percent
7. Been linked to criminal behavior: 26 percent
8. Shared confidential information from previous employers: 23 percent
9. Had an unprofessional screen name: 22 percent
10. Lied about an absence: 17 percent
In other words, getting rid of that video of you doing body shots is probably a good idea
Fortunately, when it comes to hiring practices and social media, the opposite effect is also true: 44 percent of hiring managers and employers have discovered content on a candidate's social media profile that caused them to actually hire the person.
The main reasons for this, according to the employers surveyed:
1. Candidate's background information supported their professional qualifications (38 percent)
2. Candidate demonstrated great communication skills (37 percent)
3. Candidate showed a professional image (36 percent)
4. Candidate showed creativity (35 percent)
It's also not a good idea to just get rid of your social media profiles altogether. Employers didn't like candidates who lacked a social media presence--57 percent of employers said they were far less likely to call someone in if that person was an online "ghost."
If you can't be found online, you're seen as shady. So it's not about deleting unflattering profiles; it's about cleaning up your feed.
Some practical steps to take to do so:
1. Google yourself
If you've never done this, it can be illuminating. You need to know what's out there and where.
2. Consider making certain social media profiles private
Just because you're job-hunting doesn't mean you need to suppress who you are. It's valid to have an outlet online where you can post about letting your hair down and connecting with friends.
You do need to be selective about where that content goes. Consider making certain social media profiles (like Instagram) private ... and don't accept friend requests from your old bosses on there. Also consider updating your Facebook profile privacy settings so they're not fully public.
3. Review your profiles as if you were an employer
Look at your own social media profiles through the eyes of someone looking to hire you. Are the bios up-to-date and descriptive of you now? Is the picture professional? This is especially important--a professional image starts with your actual image.
Now inspect the posts. Weight the most recent posts as most important but be sure to scroll, too.
Got questionable memes? Take them down. How about pictures of yourself, or ones in which you're tagged? This can be one of the most important (and challenging) parts of the process. Un-tag yourself liberally if necessary.
5. Post some meaningful content
It doesn't have to be a thesis; it can be as simple as a copy of a poem you particularly like, and why. It can be a thoughtful story of a really good customer service interaction you had (that would be good on LinkedIn). It can be a meaningful question put to your community.
Remember that 44 percent employers have found content on a candidate's social media that caused them to hire that person--so your social media accounts aren't just a liability; they're a chance to show even more of who you are.
Again, what employers liked seeing: background info that supports your professional qualifications; great communication skills; a professional image; and creativity.
Be bold, creative, and discerning. Employers are paying attention.