The Internet today has changed quite a bit from the one I became familiar with during the ’90s. Chat rooms are rarely as anonymous as they once were, and the actions you take have a funny way of becoming a part of the public record for all time. In fact, it’s quite possible that something you say on social media could become the first thing that appears when someone Googles your name.
This is important for many reasons. More and more employers are using social media to judge you in lieu of your resume. The experiences you can put on paper are important, but this pales in comparison to the image of who you are as a person that social media provides. Even secured social media pages are not without loopholes that employers can and will get around to find out more about their potential employees.
In this article, we’ll take a look at a few issues that could come between you and landing a perfect job. At the very least, these suggestions can help you form habits that will assist you in the professional world.
Watch Your Grammar and Spelling
Like any other bad habits that we accumulate over time, the mistakes that we make with grammar and spelling are some of the most difficult to overcome. Luckily, the majority can be done away with by simply watching out for the ones we’re prone to make and then learning from these mistakes by knowing how they can be corrected. Like any other regimen involving practice to perfection, the proper will overwrite the improper over time. Below are some examples of common mistakes made by people on social media and in comments threads.
- You’re, Ur, and Your
- You’re – You’re looking for your ball, aren’t you?
- Ur – Unless you’re referring to the ancient Sumerian city, ur isn’t a word.
- Your – Your ball is behind the dugout.
- Their, They’re, and There
- Their – The boys lost their baseball.
- They’re – They’re looking for the baseball.
- There – The baseball is over there.
- Its and It’s
- Its – Its hovercraft is over there.
- It’s – It’s over there.
- Write and Right
- Write – I like to write about baseball.
- Right – I use my right arm to throw the baseball.
Whether you’re interacting with your friends or not, employers see repetition of these simple gaffes as a sign that you’re either too lazy or uneducated to form a proper sentence. You’d be surprised at how many people submit job applications riddled with errors for jobs that require writing.
The slang may be all the rage among your friends, but it does little to make you appear more credible to the general public. It won’t kill you to use complete sentences.
Avoid the Party Photos
Party photos are a funny thing. Yes, they share the good times you’ve had with the world, but they also give employers a reason to judge you. Even private photos are easily viewed by looking at the pages of friends of yours that aren’t so private about things on which they comment.
A teacher lost her job because she had a photo of herself on Facebook during a vacation in which she traveled the world visiting cafes and even the Guinness brewery. The photo featured her holding a glass of wine and a pint of Guinness. It doesn’t show her actually consuming the beverages, which she was legally entitled to do, but it was enough for her to lose her job.
Stay off Social Media During Work (Unless It’s Your Job)
Unless your job requires you to make Facebook updates or comment on people’s posts, it’s a good idea to stay off of it during working hours. Jerry Hobby, a business owner and consultant, explained in a recent Gnomies webinar how he vets potential candidates. During his presentation, he mentioned a common practice being checking the times the candidate is tagged commenting and playing FarmVille against a typical working day. If someone claims to be working but somehow manages to log activity throughout their eight-hour shift, something is amiss.
Bottom line: Businesses see Facebook and Twitter as distractions. If you are applying for a job that requires you to stay off social media or turn your phone off during the day, it may count against you to be active at all hours of the day.
Keep it Civil and Avoid Risqué Conversations
A 2012 survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that roughly 37% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. That’s a pretty significant number, and one you should be taking to heart if you aren’t already.
In fact, the survey found that in addition to poor communication skills (35% of rejected candidates based on social network research), almost 61% were turned down because of discriminatory comments, bad-mouthing previous employers, or simply making strong statements on race, gender, religion, etc.
Taking part in conversations that have a negative tone toward anyone, no matter how specific or unrelated to your task, could be misconstrued by a potential employer. Your views on race, religion, politics, and other current events could be a detriment to employment whether the employer agrees with your stance or not.
Present Yourself as a Well-rounded Professional
Enough of what you shouldn’t do. Let’s talk about a few things you should do.
The survey mentioned earlier revealed that 65% of the companies using social media to check up on candidates look to see if the candidate presents himself (or herself) professionally. 51% check to see if the candidate is a good fit for the company and 35% judge whether or not the candidate is well-rounded.
Taking a moment to consider things you can do and/or say that might help you come off as a well-rounded professional could be well worth the time spent. These employers are judging you, not your qualifications, when they look at your social network. How you appear and come off is important — if only because it keeps you from raising any red flags with the hiring manager.
I’ve hired people after looking at their Facebook and Twitter pages before. How someone conducts themselves in public can be a direct representation of their professional attitude. People tend to drop the interview smile and shine online, and you begin to see the type of person you can expect to see on the job after the honeymoon period has faded.
I look for how someone deals with adversity when looking for managerial candidates as well. Do you join in on flame wars? Do you let trolls get to you? If you don’t, you’re on the right track.
Simply hiding your Facebook page doesn’t always bode in your favor. If I see that someone’s Facebook page is missing, it often raises a flag with me that they must have deleted it in anticipation of job hunting. This could be either a sign of someone who thinks ahead and takes due precautions or someone with something to hide. In either case, isn’t it better that you have something about you that confirms your application and resume rather than nothing at all?