You killed it in the interview. You made a connection with every hiring manager in the process. You thought you had the job ‘in the bag.’ You even cracked a few jokes making your hiring panel laugh, and from outside the glass conference room looking in, it appeared as if the hiring managers and you were old friends. But a few days go by, then a week. Then two weeks. Now you’re a tad nervous. Why haven’t you heard back from them? Was it something I said? Finally, an HR person sends an email saying the words, “we will not be proceeding with you as a candidate at this time.” Why? What did I do wrong? A very possible reason could have to do with how you portray yourself on social media.
Background checks have become the norm in most hiring processes. Reviewing a candidate’s social media presence has also become common. In fact, according to CareerBuilder, the number of employers using social media to research applicants has steadily risen over the past few years — from 39 percent of employers in 2013 to 43 percent in 2014, to 52 percent in 2015.
While CareerBuilder’s case study shows that most hiring managers are looking for the positive attributes in candidates (see graph), still, 21% are looking for reasons NOT to hire someone. In fact, 48% of hiring managers who used social media to research a candidate, said that they found something that led them to not hire a candidate.
When you work in a position that requires outbound activity (especially any sales oriented or customer facing role), you are a direct representation of the company you work for. What does that mean? It means you are on display. What you say (in public, whether online or offline) and what you do reflects, not what people think about you, but reflects what people think about the company you work for. It’s your company’s reputation that’s on the line. And that is reason enough to avoid hiring someone that poses a threat to that reputation.
So what does that mean for you as a candidate? How can I avoid this scenario on my next interview?
Get rid of any inappropriate behavior — This is the number one reason hiring managers get turned off. There is nothing wrong with being funny, or having your own opinion about something.. But if you have any of the following that might be publicly facing (meaning anyone can search you and find it): provocative or inappropriate photographs, information about drinking or using drugs, bad-mouthing previous companies or fellow employees, the chances of a hiring manager reacting to this are pretty high.
Poor communication skills — If a hiring manager sees poor communication skills throughout your social media, they might deduce that you’re not at the necessary comprehensive level needed to be proficient at the desired role
Showcase a professional image — Candidates that maintained a professional image throughout their social media have a much better chance of getting hired.
Show that you’re a creative thinker — It’s not all about the negatives; remember, the majority hiring managers that use this research in their vetting processes are looking for something good. They want to see if you have a professional persona online. Use social media to your advantage! Show them that you can think outside the box.
Making sure of these simple steps can be the difference between a company calling you back with an offer, or you never hearing from them again.