A Status Update Away from a Dream Job

There are plenty of times that a company employee falls foul of their status updates on social media sites. Their employer will find them tagged in a check-in at the beach on a ‘sick day’ or an inappropriate comment added during an alcoholic evening. The repercussions can be dire personally - and legally. 

Is your dream job is a status update away from being lost forever?

Many people fall into the trap of “over-sharing” personal information online and so it is perhaps inevitable that recruitment agencies use the opportunity peek at digital lives; after all it is easy to assume that it is an insight into the true character of the person – isn’t it?

In Jobvite’s annual Social Recruiting Survey conducted in August 2014, completed by 1,855 recruiting and human resources professionals spanning across industries they found that social recruiting is now the norm. 93% of recruiters use or plan to use social to support their recruiting efforts with 55% of recruiters admitting to reconsidering a candidate based on their social profile and over 90% reviewing a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision.

55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on their social profile, with 61% of those being negative, this included picking up on profanity, spelling, grammar, drug references, sexual posts, political affiliation and alcohol mis-use – and it wasn’t just Facebook that they searched! 94% of them said they used linkedin, 66% facebook, 52% Twitter, 21% Google+ and 15% used YouTube. 

The problem with using social media as a tool for recruitment is the risk of making assumptions (or potential discrimination) about employability on the basis of online comments or status updates, or potentially inaccurate web images that may have been ‘tagged’.

Turning down an apparently exemplary candidate following a social media check landed one US employer – the University of Kentucky – in trouble. They had to make a $125,000 out-of-court settlement to a UK scientist who, despite being the best fit for a director-level job, was turned away after expressing views online felt to conflict with the role he had applied for. 

In 2012 the German Parliament signalled its intention to draw a legal distinction between social networking sites such as Facebook and professional networks such as LinkedIn; effectively banning candidate-vetting via the former but permitting employers to search using the latter.

But of course – being a little social savvy could also be an advantage! Advice to potential candidates on totaljobs.com says; “When in jobseeker mode, the main advice is keep a clean profile on any social media, and big-up anything that might seem a positive for the job you’re after. If you’re applying to be a North Sea diver for an oil company, post those scuba-diving pictures now!”

David Mason, Head of Talent Acquisition at CH2M HILL speaking at the SMART Conference in 2013, described how their corporation uses Social Media and especially Linkedin to engage with candidates globally. They had found that when they posted on Job Boards they were flooded with average candidates from all over the world and instead decided to focus their efforts on social media and internet networking. 

As David explained, “Job boards generate too much noise, social media allows us to target and source the right people and it also helped to reduce the cost per hire by decreasing the number of assignments to agencies.”

Their recruitment strategy was to harness social media to attract candidates, test and try different social media platforms to target candidates effectively and to use social media to attract new geographical audience and therefore a diversified pool of talent.

“Okay,” you say, “but I keep my nose—and my posts—clean, and I wouldn’t think of making any of the 10 stupidest social media blunders MONEY recently wrote about. So what have I got to worry about?”

The message is clear! Do not post anything you wouldn’t mind an employer or potential employer seeing. Check your privacy settings, but don’t depend on them because they’re known to change frequently. And remember, just because your social media postings haven’t hurt you yet, doesn’t mean they won’t - or have they? 

Image sourced from splitshire.com