Looking for a job? Check out your social media footprint. Because your future employer is.
Do you Tweet? Are your Facebook and LinkedIn pages up to date with your latest activities? If a stranger toured your social media, what would they think about you?
I started thinking about this after reading “dueling” columns in the New York Times on the pros and cons of having an online presence. Patrick Gillooly argues that social media is essential in a job hunt: “Not having a profile could be seen as a red flag…” On the con side, Cal Newport says social media is a time suck that could ruin your career.
So I reached out to two Great Clips colleagues to get their opinions on social media in the context of a job hunt. Aaron Grote is Great Clips’ digital strategist and Jared Nypen is our director of talent acquisition. It will come as no surprise that our answers aligned pretty closely with our job responsibilities.
What's the most important thing someone should think about regarding their social media accounts when looking for a job?
One of the best things you can do is highlight your volunteering/charity work.
The absolute worst thing you can do is complain about your job, your company, your co-workers, or anything related to your job. Other things that will turn away employers are illegal activities (especially drugs), sexual posts, profanity, controversial topics (guns, for example), misspellings, or poor grammar.
Aaron: Ask, “Am I aberrant in a negative way?” If there’s one thing you need to do, it’s make sure there’s nothing that makes you stand out in a negative way.
Beth: You are representing yourself to the world—the good, the bad, the ugly. Does that image represent what you want employers to see? Know what’s online about you—be sure you really know what’s public and what’s private. Assume that, even if it’s supposed to be private, someone out there will be able to find it.
Should you delete your account? Are there disadvantages to not having a social media profile?
Aaron: If you need to delete your accounts to appear acceptable for a company, you probably don't want to work there anyway. If you're like most people, your social media show you're a person with a life outside of work. If a company doesn’t want that, you’ll be miserable in that job.
Jared: At a minimum, you should have a LinkedIn profile. Otherwise, employers will wonder if you are living under a rock.
Beth: I agree with that sentiment. In this day and age, not participating in some aspect of social media makes you the oddball out. When I can’t find any online presence, it makes me curious. Is there something they don’t want me to know? As an employer, I find social accounts shed light on people’s personalities in a way that a resume and in-person interview can’t. I’m not hoping to find “dirt” on someone, just see a different side.
Have you ever thought about deleting your own account?
Beth: Nope. I’m friends with my parents, work colleagues, vendors, and even my pastors. Before I post anything, I think about what these people might think. So, any potential employer is going to see that same view of me, and I’m okay with that.
Aaron: I’ve asked myself that question as a matter of due diligence. But the answer was "no" and it didn't take me long to get there.
Jared: No, my social presence is very straightforward: LinkedIn is very business professional, Facebook is primarily family, and Twitter is a combination of both. I would be comfortable with my boss looking at all three.
How much do you look at a job applicant’s social media profile? What do you look for?
Jared: I look at Twitter and LinkedIn right away, but wait to look at Facebook until the interview stage. I look for people who are positive and passionate about things that are important to them. I love it when they post positive things about their industry, their company, their job, or their coworkers because it indicates they are involved in their industry by publishing, sharing, and engaging in the conversation.
Aaron: I take a brief look, mostly to see if there's a pattern of poor decision-making that might be a warning sign I didn't pick up in resumes and interviews.
Beth: I’ll look if I’m calling them in for an interview. If they have a professional page (LinkedIn), I’m looking for consistency with their resume. What other associations did they include? What are the important things they called out on LinkedIn that didn’t make it onto their resume? If I find a Facebook or Twitter account, I look to see if what they post is consistent with the kind of person I want on my team. Are they fun? Do they post things that are divisive? Are they posting every 15 minutes? What do they want me to think about them?
Are there different standards for entry-level, mid-level or executive positions?
Jared: I don’t think there’s much difference until you become someone who will be in the media—because the media will check your profiles and they will be unforgiving.
Beth: The higher the position, the higher the level of scrutiny. You’re representing the company brand at any level. But as an executive, what you stand for and how you represent yourself online has to be in line with the values of your company.
Aaron: For me, it’s not a matter of rank. If the job requires the person to use social media to influence people and groups—as many leadership positions do—their personal social media can prove or disprove their ability to do that. If the person is looking for a position that does require those skills, it can be useful to dedicate one or two channels (LinkedIn and Twitter, for example) to develop and display those abilities.
Best advice you ever got regarding your use of social media?
Beth: What you post will remain online forever. If you don’t want your grandma, mom, pastor, or boss to see that post, don’t post it.
Jared: Don’t post it unless you’d be comfortable seeing it on the Jumbotron at a sold-out game.
Aaron: Don’t feed the trolls.
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