How Social Media Can Impact Your Job Prospects

A few years ago, it was a mere possibility that a potential employer sneaked a peak at your social media page. But these days, tracking the social media activities of potential job candidates is a legitimate part of the screening process for most employers. Indeed, recent research suggests that roughly 91 percent of employers are using social media profiles to check out candidates before deciding whether to hire them. This is no longer a game of luck; you need to play the game yourself and have an online social presence that befits the professional persona you are looking to cultivate. Below, let’s look at the top mistakes job applicants have made on social media and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Constant Complaining

Continuously moaning about your love life, your teachers or your day job on social media sites is not a smart thing to do when looking for a job. If possible, don’t do it at all! We’ve all had a horrible day at college or work and wanted to go home and rant about it. But doing so on a regular basis on your social media profiles tells an employer that you have a difficult attitude.

Don’t go thinking that a post that goes live is lost forever after a few hours have passed. Further down the line, negative backchat about your boss or your colleagues could come back to haunt you and be reported, possibly even leading to resignation.

Mistake #2: Not Keeping It Classy

Tasteless language, like an overuse of curse words, or deliberately offending others (for instance, when leaving comments on photos), is another important indicator employers look for when screening job candidates. It’s not just the language you use either; what image are you portraying with the photos that appear on your various profiles? Is a profile picture of you getting drunk on a night out, or in a bikini showing way too much flesh really the best choice? The answer is a definite no.

If you like to go out on a weekend and let your hair down with your friends you might be thinking that this is none of your employer’s business. However, you make it their business by posting about it online, so remember the world is watching.

Mistake #3: Too Much ‘Txt’ Talk

Often, we scan through our social media apps on cell phones or tablets. This can mean we’re in a different headspace in terms of the language we use, and the amount of care we take with our spelling, punctuation and grammar. That’s not to say that your Facebook page should be a walking thesaurus, but frequently posting in text speak, or misspelling words, reflects very poorly on you when it comes to future or current employers.

Mistake #4: Thoughtless Posts

If you’re up for a promotion, just had a pay rise or are on the lookout for another job, it’s essential that you refrain from discussing this on social media sites. It could get you in hot water with your current employer, and give a bad first impression to a potential one. This is something to be particularly careful about on different social media sites, since it tends to be the arena where you connect with current, past and future colleagues; all of whom can see your activities. Send private messages or stick with email wherever possible.

Mistake #5: Forgetting to Give Credit Where it is Due

Google has made it super simple to search for anything and everything, and as such, plagiarizing others by using photos and phrases without correct permission is an easy mistake to make. It tells an employer that you lack integrity, that you are lazy and without your own imaginative ideas – neither of which sound like good reasons to hire someone.

Mistake #6: White Lies Could be Lethal

A study in 2011 concluded that around 15 percent of employers would reject candidates due to having lied about their qualifications or experience. On some social media sites, you boost your profile with details of your previous experience, and you might be tempted to claim your got a first-class degree instead of a second-class one to reel in better potential employers. Always assume that such lies could come back to bite you, even if they seem small. When you are asked at interview to produce certificates and you can’t, it could mean the difference between being offered the job and remaining unemployed.