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Why Your Social Media Life Could Affect Your Job Prospects

social media background check

Getting ready for a job interview is a nervous time for many. You have yourself mentally ready and you have done your research on the company. But there is a chance that the company has done their research on you too and nowadays that means more than just a background check. It involves social media and all that you freely post online.

Big Brother recruitment

At one time, you would attend an interview with your resume in hand and be asked about your accomplishments, your strengths and weaknesses or perhaps a specific project you had worked on. Questions were very job-specific, tried and tested and you had a pretty good idea what sort of questions were going to come up during your interview.

But the modern day interview is a very different prospect with companies and educational institutions opting for obscure and strange questions. These range from the surprising to the outright bizarre and big names such as Apple are famous for their weird questioning approach during interviews.

They also do a lot to research candidates on social media before an interview and this is where your social media life could affect your job prospects. Harvesting information about a candidate’s online life isn’t an area that is regulated in the way that other background checks and credit checks are, meaning there is nothing to stop a company ‘investigating’ you across Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform that you have joined.

hate my boss Facebook groupProblems from social media

While you might think that your social media life is harmless and would have no relevance to your real-world job prospects, not all employers join you in this view. In fact, many of them actually look at what you do online as a reflection of what you would do for them if they employed you. So what areas raise red flags for companies?

Firstly, there’s the big stuff, things like joining public groups that are likely to raise eyebrows such as ‘I Hate My Boss’ and similar sites – this shows a person who is unhappy and rather than dealing with it appropriately will turn to social media instead to rant openly about their boss. On the other hand, joining positive groups relating to your profession is a good sign and can put you in a better light with your prospective employers.

Avoid complaining about the customers of your current job in the same way if you can help it. While we all encounter the world’s worst customer at some time or other, talking about it in private messages with a friend can help you get your frustrations off your chest, or better yet, actually speak to a friend or family member to vent your frustration – just don’t do it on an open social media site.

Your profile information should always be up to date and consistent, especially when compared with your resume. Don’t tell the world through social media that you have had two years out of work when your resume shows a constant stream of jobs for the same period – inconsistency leads to doubt. Ensure all the information available about you tallies up.

Don’t post to the world that you are applying for a new job, or at least don’t include any specifics as employers don’t like to see this sort of information all over the internet, especially if the process is confidential. And never say anything negative about a potential employer! That would be asking for trouble.

Subtle signs

The time of day you use social media can also work against you, especially if you are using it during work time when you are meant to be doing your job. Sure, if your job is to post on social media information about your employer or you are responsible for responding to your company’s social media queries, then this is fine, but otherwise you will be showing you have a lack of application to your work. Uploading pictures, commenting and liking posts when you are meant to be working doesn’t create a good first impression.

The quality of your posts may seem irrelevant – so you use abbreviations, daft words and never read what you have written for spelling mistakes but so what? It’s only social media after all! However, this isn’t really the case any more. Whatever you post, comment, like or share reflects you and your personality, your attitude, approach to life and your general views. Even taking the time to spell check a tweet or post shows you care how the world sees you and that you take pride in every word associated with you. According to one survey conducted by Jobvite, 54% of employers react negatively to bad grammar and spelling while only 47% reactive negatively to drunken night out references.

Check yourself out

When you come to begin the process of finding a new job, make sure you Google yourself. Have a look at what comes up associated with you, the content, images and other links. This allows you to see what the employer will see when they do exactly the same. Then it might be time for some serious consideration about how you deal with social media going forward.

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