How social media profile can impact your application

How social media profile can ruin your job application

December 6, 2022
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Believe it or not, 70% of hiring managers check candidate’s social media profiles to screen them for an interview…and 54% of them have eliminated a candidate based on what they saw.

But as nerve-racking as that might sound, the opposite is also true: 44% of hiring managers have actually hired a candidate based on their social media profile.

When you hear statistics like these, it really shows how much of an impact that your profiles can have when you’re applying for a job. But what exactly are hiring managers looking for when they vet a candidate on social media? And is it appropriate to connect with hiring managers on platforms like LinkedIn when you’re looking to land a job?

We’ve put together answers to these questions – along with insights from Carrus Coach Natalie, former recruiting manager for Facebook and Cisco. Read along to find out!

The key things on your social media profiles that impact your credibility

Before we delve right into what elements of your profile are being assessed, it’s important to note that not all hiring managers agree that looking at a candidate’s social media profile is appropriate (nor ethical). After all, 70% of hiring managers checking profiles would mean that 30% of hiring managers do not.

Here are a couple of examples of how opinions can be split:

From Beatrice, a communications expert:

“A candidate’s social media presence SHOULD be a part of the hiring decision. Look at it this way: an employer is taking a very big, very expensive risk when they hire a new employee, both in terms of time and in terms of money. And much of the time that decision is taken on the basis of 2 pieces of paper (cover letter and resume) and a 1-hour interview. That is not much to base your decision on when hiring someone. So any tool you can use to help in your decision-making is helpful.”

Meanwhile, here’s HR professional Rosalind’s opposing view:

“Social media screening is essentially tapping into a job candidate’s private life. It can reveal information about protected characteristics such as one’s age, race, nationality, disabilities, gender, religion, etc. which could bias pre-employment and employee hiring decisions, which is why the companies I’ve worked for do not use it. If social media is included in pre-employment background checks, it is not possible to completely separate truth from fiction.”

At the end of the day, you might not fully know whether or not the company you are applying for will check or not check your profiles, so it’s good to assume they will. If you’re applying for a job at a company that happens to be one where social media profiles are checked, then here is what you need to consider:

According to annual surveys run by CareerBuilder, the top 5 reasons why a hiring manager would eliminate a candidate based on their social media profile are:

  1. Provocative or inappropriate photos
  2. Information about drinking or drug use
  3. Discriminatory comments related to race, gender and religion
  4. Bad mouthing previous companies or fellow employees
  5. Lying about qualifications

On the flip side, here are the key things that make candidates look good from their social media profiles:

  1. The social media profile supported the qualifications on the CV
  2. The candidate demonstrated great communication skills
  3. The candidate showed a professional image

Carrus Coach Natalie weighs in:

*”*I would often connect with candidates [on LinkedIn] to ensure they would see my company or role updates. Whilst waiting for candidates to create their CV’s I have also (with their approval) sent their profile to the hiring manager. In the past, I have noticed a large difference between a job title in a CV vs [the job title on] LinkedIn and asked the candidate to tell me more about why there was a difference.”

What it all comes down to is credibility; if a hiring manager was to look at your public social media profiles right now, would you be happy with what they’d see? Do you feel that your social media profiles enhance and support your CV and cover letter?

Individuals can spend so much time perfecting their resumes to be seen in the best light – don’t let your social media profile go overlooked! And if you prefer that your social media profiles are kept as tools you can use to express yourself without being researched, consider changing your privacy settings to limit what hiring managers can see, and refine the elements that are viewable to the public.

Segueing from limited profiles, if you’re not on social media at all, that’s not good either. According to researchers, employers didn’t like candidates who lacked a social media presence and 57% said they were far less likely to call someone in if that person was an online “ghost”.

Should you connect with a hiring manager on LinkedIn?

Of all of the social media platforms, LinkedIn is the one you want to focus the most of your attention on when you are in the process of applying for jobs. Recruiters use LinkedIn as an important HR tool, so you’re most likely to be looked up on this platform compared to other social media platforms.

Carrus Coach Natalie weighs in:

“Over the years I have placed at least 50 candidates into roles who reached out to me via Linkedin. I have also placed at least double this amount from other employees who passed on a profile of someone they were connected to via LinkedIn. I also recently spoke to a client who got an interview with a real niche company after contacting one of the Directors with positive feedback on an article they wrote.

“I am a yes on sending a connection via LinkedIn if you have [already] had a meeting – be it virtual or face to face. I recommend a short follow-up thanking them for their time and suggesting you connect for future connection, sharing, or questions. I recommend including a note with your connection request.

“The reason why it’s good to connect is because it makes you memorable. It might help [the hiring manager] find and remember you more easily in the future. It might prompt them to reply to you with feedback or the next steps. Your LinkedIn profile may also include details about you that didn’t come up in your interview/meeting/intro call or aren’t clear on your CV, but are interesting or relevant, such as an article you wrote, volunteer work, or hobbies.

What to consider before you connect:

There could be some circumstances in which you should pause to assess whether or not it’s appropriate to connect with someone.

“If you are uncertain if this feels appropriate, maybe ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did they tell you that you could reach out post-interview with any other questions?
  • Do they seem to be an active LinkedIn user?
  • Did you discuss the use of social media platforms in your interview?”, says Natalie.

You may also not want to connect on social media if you’ve already connected via email, are not happy with your LinkedIn profile, or if your LinkedIn profile does not match your CV.

Example of how connecting has brought opportunities for candidates

“A few years ago, a manager came to me asking about a candidate he had met for a ‘coffee’ about a potential role a year or two ago. I wasn’t able to find the record in our new CRM – but after 10 minutes of him searching his LI network with the small details he remembered about the candidate (previous company, a specific tech certification and then filtering on ‘1st connections’) – he found him. It was only thanks to the candidate sending him an invite years before that he was able to recall the details and eventually hired the person for a brand new role he had been pushing for Headcount to hire for years.” Natalie shares.

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