Social media is becoming increasingly important in the job application process. Many potential employers will take a look at your Twitter or Facebook timeline if they are thinking of making an offer.
That gives you another opportunity to show who you are and what interests you.
Get it wrong, however, and it can be disastrous for your job prospects.
There have been numerous stories of employees who have been found out posting unsuitable things on their social media accounts and getting on the wrong side of employers. One of the high profile revelations was young Scottish MP Mhairi Black who was caught out using foul language in her youth on Twitter as a teenager. While it didn’t affect her career too much, you can understand the furore that was created.
Career Builder did a survey 8 years ago that discovered more and more businesses were researching potential job candidates online before they offered a job. That’s likely to have increased considerably in the intervening time. The research found the reasons for disregarding candidates after checking them on social media, included:
If you’re a regular on social media and looking for a new job, therefore, it pays to take a good hard look at your Facebook and Twitter timelines. That means going right back to the beginning and checking there’s nothing too contentious – something your potential employer might take the wrong way.
We’re not saying you have to get rid of any picture that shows you at a party or hide the fact that you voted Labour in the last election or that have strong beliefs on certain subjects. These can demonstrate your character to some employers and be useful. They might indeed be looking at the number of friends you have and the way you interact.
It’s a fine line to tread between making yourself look interesting and avoiding posting anything that’s too contentious or could turn an employer off.
Paying attention to what you post and who you engage with can have numerous benefits. For example, if you are developing a career in management, networking on sites like LinkedIn is going to be important. If you are a researcher, then linking up with projects around the world and paying attention to what is happening in R&D could well be the thing that swings it for you at that next interview.
Social media says a lot if you look at it closely enough. You can understand how someone sees themselves in the world, not simply what music they like or interests they have. A potential employer may be impressed that you are heavily into current affairs and passionate about certain issues. They can also tell a certain amount from the people you follow and the things you retweet or repost. Getting it right doesn’t mean your social media timeline needs to be heavily redacted – just be careful about boasting how many pints or shots of tequila you had last night, particularly if you’re going for a job that carries a certain amount of responsibility.