However, most job seekers seem to think we’re only looking for keg-stand pics or some other arbitrary reason not to hire you; bad-mouthing your old boss, for example.
And they would be wrong.
When recruiters – some of whom have these social media reference checks down to a science – look into your social media, they are looking at much more than just your character (and some of it is just downright scary)…
After the requisite search for the underwear-on-your-head pics, the next step for the recruiter is determining your fit within their company – and the position.
Do you use a high-percentage of swear words? Are you overly confrontational? Are you hyper-adamant in your political beliefs? Are you sensitive when it comes to diversity issues like race, religion and sexual orientation? Even the slightest miscue, like innocently calling a best friend a name considered insensitive in some circles, puts your candidacy at risk.
On the other hand, do you display a sense of humor? How do you handle negative comments from others? Are you happy for others as they achieve? However they define it personally, recruiters like to hire those they like and/or respect… because it sure helps if team members like and respect each other.
Are you likeable?
Personal Branding Inconsistencies
The next step in the social media scan: a look at your character and integrity. Are you who you say you are?
The warning signs during this critical stage are 99.9% self-inflicted. For instance, and in the most obvious case, you list “work ethic” as a marketable soft skill – yet consistently tweet, “Gawd, will this day ever end!!!” Or, in one very real case, talk about how you passionately support Special Olympics, yet refer to your friends in casual posts as “retards”.
Being consistent in your online branding and social media isn’t difficult – for the honest and genuine.
Are you authentic?
Written Communication Skills
Here’s what recruiters know (even though most job seekers fail in this area): you have all the time in the world, and almost anyone can get the right kind of help, to write a good cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile.
Social media, however, is often spontaneous. You don’t always take the to time to spell-check, enter full words and sentences or engage the filters required to keep you from posting something stupid, or poorly written. In other words, what you write in social media is the “real” you – the version who will be representing their company – often in spontaneous, pressure filled situations.
Are you a communicator?
Trending Health Issues
This may be the least known factor of a recruiter’s check of your social media…
Do you often complain that you aren’t feeling well? Does the whole world know when you have a bad headache? How often do you call in sick? If, through your social media interactions, the recruiter gets the idea that you’re a whiner, a hypochondriac or dependent on the sympathy of others… they’ll assume that is how you’ll be in the workplace. And on Facebook, they can go back months and months to spot trends.
For a creepy look at how far this aspect of tracking your social media could go, take a look at this post from HR Capitalist.
Are you dependable?
A recruiter hires for today’s version of the long-term. They want to know that for at least two to three years, you will remain the person they hired you for – and that you’ll be able make this job your highest priority.
They do that by looking for red flags in your social media. For instance, you may talk about how you can’t wait to move back home (and the physical location of this job is not in the same city as home). You may have a post about your impeding marriage next spring, and how you can’t wait to start a family. They might even see how upset you are that your parents are getting a divorce, or that you need to spend a great deal of time with your ailing grandmother with Alzheimer’s.
Any indication that your focus will be elsewhere – as seen through your posts on social media sites – may cost you an interview.
Are you focused?
Yes, recruiters do use social media – for a lot more than you think, at a deeper level than most imagine. This screening occurs well before their first conversation with you; very seldom are you given the opportunity to explain, clarify or retract. In most cases, you won’t even know they, at one time, considered you a strong candidate.
With the recruiter’s perspective in mind, take a look at your online presence. Now determine: what do your social media accounts tell recruiters, about you?
About the Author: CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO.com regarding job search, career development, internships and higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce. A keynote speaker and blogger, Mark’s contributions include Huffington Post, 12Most.com, The Daily Muse, Alltop, PRDaily, StudentBranding.com and Intern Advocate.
Mark has been honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” and was recently featured on HR Examiner’s “Top 25 Trendspotters in HR” and several top blogger lists, including JobMob’s “Top Career Bloggers of 2011”. Contact Mark via email or on Twitter!