8 social media behaviors that could harm your job search

Sep 29, 2016 | Article

There are certain social media behaviors that are routinely interpreted as red flags by employers - behaviors that you should avoid at all costs.

It's hard to find people in today's digital age that don't have some kind of social media presence. Whether it's Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn, social media is a ubiquitous contemporary presence, with people using the platforms for an array of reasons, from connecting with family and friends to dating and professional networking.

Given that our social media accounts can reveal a lot about our personality and interests, it should come as no surprise that a large number of employers now check the social pages of potential candidates. In fact, a 2014 survey from Jobvite found that up to 93 percent of employers will visit sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to screen job hopefuls.

Consequently, it's crucial to keep in mind that your social media presence could have a big impact on your chances of securing a job, especially considering the Jobvite finding that 55 percent of employers have changed their mind due to information uncovered on a candidate's social media account. "An individual's social media presence is just as important, if not more important, than a resume," notes Michael Pickens, Division Director of Beacon Hill's Financial Division in Chicago. "Any post you have on any social media platform will be a representation of you. It is for the world to see – your friends, your family, your network, and potential employers. All it takes is a quick search. Protect your image and protect your brand."

If you are searching for a new job, review the list below of big social media no-nos:

1. Negative comments about work
Although you shouldn't necessarily feel like Big Brother is always watching your every keystroke, it is important to carefully monitor your complaints about work on social media. As Forbes explained, complaining about co-workers, or worse your boss, risks making you appear unprofessional and uncooperative. And while posting "tough day at work today" will not result in your resume being thrown in the trash bin, excessive negative comments about work (especially personal attacks) will not endear you to a hiring manager. Remember – a potential employer is hiring you, not your boss. S/he will not pay attention to all of the oppressive conditions you face at work, but rather your reaction to them. After all, they won't need to put up with your employer, but they will have to deal with you.

2. Complaining about clients
In the same way that moaning about your colleagues and boss is bad idea, the same rule applies for bad mouthing clients, Time Magazine stated. Again, it comes across as rude and unprofessional, and reflects poorly on your company. Be especially careful not to post any comments, negative or otherwise, about clients who are supposed to remain confidential.

3. Bad language and distasteful jokes
Social media is a fantastic way to connect with friends and share life updates, jokes and more. But be careful not to let your guard down too much while on social media - what you say in the company of friends may well not be appropriate for a public forum. CIO advised ceasing behaviors such as the use of excessive bad language and any jokes that may cause offense - think jokes about sex, race, gender and so on. Also be sure to avoid posts that are overly violent or sexual in nature. Follow this rule of thumb – re-read every post at least once before actually making it live. This serves two purposes: 1) it allows you some time to decompress before you fire off a hasty, ill-conceived remark; and 2) from a practical sense, it gives you the opportunity to correct any spelling and grammar mistakes (the dangers of Autocorrect are real!). And remember, you can always share that joke or funny video with friends via private messaging - it doesn't need to go on your timeline.

4. Statements about protected characteristics
In a similar vein to the discussion above, it's crucial to remove any comments or jokes you may have posted concerning marginalized groups or any protected characteristic in general. Anything about race, gender, sexuality, religion, disabilities and so on, must go - and that advice stands even if you aren't applying for a job! While you may not intend to come across as bigoted with such material, it still sends a clear signal to potential employers that you could be intolerant, and that, understandably, is a deal-breaker as far as hiring you is concerned. Anything rude or crass language should be removed from your social media accounts.Anything rude or crass language should be removed from your social media accounts.

5. Inappropriate photos
If you still have those photos of you and your friends having a great time at that kegger in college on your Facebook page, now is a good time to take them down. As Forbes detailed, any photos that picture you engaging in irresponsible, unprofessional, or worse, illegal behavior, should be removed - for obvious reasons. An employer will likely look unfavorably upon you if it looks as though your life is one big party.

6. Ignoring your professional life online
While you may be an active tweeter or Instagramer, being absent on professional social sites such as LinkedIn might be an issue, CIO argued. Think of it this way – if your LinkedIn photo is a silhouette and your profile is filled with incomplete and outdated information, you risk misinforming employers and, worse, alienating them with the perception that you are not invested in your professional life. Especially as a job seeker, keep your professional platforms up to date. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile or your own professional website, consider investing the time and energy into creating one. It is another opportunity for you to show that you are an active, savvy, and accomplished member of the working world.

7. An overly negative attitude
The primary reason that employers will review your social accounts is to garner a feel for your personality and to determine if you would be a good fit for the company culture. Consequently, if you consistently post updates that are overly negative or mean spirited, there is a solid chance you are scaring away employers, Forbes explained. "All job seekers should assume that potential employers are doing their research about you online during the interview process," says Kristen Rodriguez, Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Indianapolis. "You want to make sure your online presence is professional. We have seen it happen a number of times where a candidate is really put at a disadvantage because of the content they post." Review your page - would you describe the overall tone as positive or negative? If the answer is the latter (especially if it is blatantly so), it could be time to rethink your approach to social media.

8. Posting during office hours
Although many of us are guilty of checking our social media accounts during the day, if you are seen to be actively posting during work hours, it could be a red flag for employers, Time Magazine argued. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have date and time stamps on posts, so it's hard to avoid being caught this way. The best advice, therefore, is to keep the weekday morning posts to a minimum.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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