Shocked woman with laptop

The online gaffes that cost people jobs: How employers are screening you

Elizabeth Bromstein|

We’ve all heard the tales of people who got canned because they wrote something stupid on Facebook, and if you haven’t you can read about them here.

Your online presence also has a big impact on how you are perceived by potential employers.

Social media monitoring service Reppler recently surveyed more than 300 hiring professionals to determine how recruiters are screening job candidates on different social networks.

The study found that 91% of hiring professionals have checked out a candidate’s profile on a social network as part of the screening process. Sixty nine per cent said they have rejected a candidate based on content found on a profile, while 68% said they have hired a candidate based on same.

Take a look at the infographic below. And let’s discuss some of the more grievous faux pas.

Inappropriate photos: Keep your pants on, put away the firearms (unless you’re applying at the NRA, I guess), try not to look like you’re about to puke on your shoes or pass out. If your friends tag you in inappropriate pics, untag yourself. Even better if you can snap shots of yourself doing things that make you look awesome, like volunteering, winning spelling bees or running marathons.

Inappropriate comments: People use the web to complain about their bosses and about life in general. I’ve also seen folks joking about the lies they’re about to tell on the job interview they’re about to go to. Smart! People assure me that their privacy settings will save them. But you better make sure you haven’t set your posts to be viewable to “friends of friends” and/or that the interviewer isn’t one of those. And if your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other networks are connected, you need to be aware of the impression you’re making at all times. Also bad: swearing and insulting people, even celebrities that people seem to think are fair game. I once saw someone Tweet that Justin Bieber should “be shot.” Idiot.

Lying: It’s a wise idea to make sure your online profiles and paper resumé match up. This obviously means your education and previous work experience. Also, if you’ve said you’re a master of the English language, don’t have grammar mistakes and typos all over your page. If you’ve claimed to know how to code/use Omniture/perform surgery, don’t be publicly asking for advice on how to write a web page/track visits/remove a splinter. Better yet, don’t lie. Read about how not to lie here.

Demonstrating poor communication skills: Look, dawg, i definately dont need to tellu that spelling&gramr mite be impotent on fb do i? But communication isn’t just spelling and grammar. Potential employers might look at the way you interact online. So fighting with friends or significant others on your Facebook page is a very bad idea.

Posting content about drinking and drugs: Don’t tell everyone how drunk you got or that you dropped acid last night. It can be very tempting to seek out the comfort and counsel of your online community when you’re sitting at home with a heart full of regret, wondering what happened to your pants and trying to piece the previous evening together.

But — to put several of these no nos together — posting “MAN! I got SO F***ED UP last nite on E n PCP. totally TPd my buttf***er old boss’s house. here’s a pic! click to see! Has N E one seen my clothes????” is a really bad idea.

Bonus: Politics: This is not addressed specifically in the Reppler infographic but I feel it bears mention. I’m always surprised at the amount of vehement political opinion I see shared on Facebook. If you’re job seeking, this might not be a good idea. DON’T assume that everyone agrees with you, even if your close circle of 872 online friends appears to. Perhaps you feel that your principles are more important than any job, or perhaps you work in a sector you’re sure is populated by likeminded people. In those cases, share away. Otherwise, understand that a potential employer might be put off by your opinions and means of sharing them.

Here’s the entire infographic from Reppler.com. (Click on the image for a larger view)


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