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Candidate selection by social media is on the increase

A great CV and interview used to get you that job you really wanted, now however that twitter rant you had or that party picture you put on Instagram could have a real effect on your chances of getting your dream job. Social media is now being used as part of the selection process by a large number of employers, indeed the latest research₁ revealed that 70% of employers now use social media to screen job candidates before hiring them, up from 60% a year ago and 11% in 2006. It’s not just social media being utilised either with 70% of employers using search engines to research candidates as well.

However, before you decide to delete all your social media, the good news is that employers aren’t looking for information to catch you out and stop you getting the job. In fact, 61% are using the internet to find reasons to recruit you and actually deleting your accounts could result in you not being selected as 60% of employers are less likely to decide to interview a candidate if you have no online presence. The key here is to nurture a positive online presence and remove or make private any information that could be perceived as negative.

So what platforms are employers looking at?

A new YouGov survey₂ of business decision makers revealed that employers check the
following social media when researching candidates:

· LinkedIn                 48%

· Facebook               46%

· Twitter                    28%

· Instagram              15%

· Myspace                 5%

· Tumblr                    5%          

· Flickr                        4%

· Other                       4%

Candidates’ LinkedIn and Facebook accounts are the most likely to come under scrutiny. Almost half (48%) of employers said they either would check or do check an applicant’s LinkedIn profile, while similar numbers (46%) said the same for Facebook.

What social media posts could stop you getting selected?

The YouGov survey revealed the following posts were more likely to stop you getting selected:

· Aggressive/offensive language - 75%

· References to drug use - 71%

· Bad spelling/grammar - 56%

· Drunken photos of themselves - 47%

· Political views/activity - 29%

· General oversharing of content - 29%

· Vanity/too many selfies - 26%

· Other - 6%

Using aggressive or offensive language was the thing most likely to put potential employers off a candidate. Three quarters (75%) of employers said this behaviour would discourage them from hiring someone, followed by 71% who would be put off by references to drug use. Classic drunken night out photos would put off 47% of employers. Whilst candidates know to focus on the spelling and grammar in their CV and covering letter, it seems they must now also extend that to include their social media profiles. More than half (56%) of employers said that bad spelling and grammar on a potential employee’s social media account could jeopardise their chances of being hired.

So what can you do to make your internet presence ‘employer proof’?

· First things first, Google yourself and see what’s out there - don’t forget to look at any old social media accounts and google images for any pictures.

· Ensure your social media content supports your application - professional qualifications, communication skills, creativity and a professional imagine should match your CV.

·Whilst hiding inappropriate content is obvious, don’t clean up your profile so it doesn’t reflect who you are - this could appear as you have something to hide.

· Use your content to reflect who you are and to communicate your personality and highlight your pastimes and hobbies - this is very important to those employers who regard their company culture as paramount.

· Don’t stop being vigilant when you get the job - 51% of employers use social media to research current employees and 34% of employees have found themselves reprimanded or sacked because of their social media content.

· Don’t overshare - don’t put your whole life on social media and remember employers judge those that appear to use it too often.

· Watch your spelling and grammar.

· Keep content consistent from one platform to another and if you update your content ensure you do it on all your social media.

· Don’t panic and go silent, using the right platforms and content can increase you visibility and search ability.

· Don’t just use social media for the social side; include content about your job and industry. Consider joining industry relevant forums and communities and participate in discussions.

· You have to work at it - you have to put yourself out there, especially when looking for a job. By sharing your expertise or sharing a relevant article, you appear as a thought leader.

· Remember nothing on the internet ever truly goes away and consider making all your profiles private.