negative cartoonA new study released by online reputation manager Reppler revealed that 91 percent of recruiters screen applicants via social networks, with 76 percent reporting that they view a candidate’s Facebook profile. With the pending implementation of the new timeline profiles, candidates are probably going to have their info. viewed even more frequently by potential employers.

Most screening of social media profiles occurs after an application is received or after an initial conversation with a candidate occurs, meaning that even before you hit apply, you need to have your online profile buttoned up – even if you don’t intend to use it for professional purposes.

The top reasons that employers rejected candidates had to do with content found on their social media profiles, with the top 5 reasons being:

  1. Lied about their qualifications (13 percent)
  2. Demonstrated poor communications skills (11 percent)
  3. Posted negative comments about a previous employer (11 percent)
  4. Posted inappropriate photos/comments (11 percent each)
  5. Made discriminatory comments (10 percent)

Other reasons included that candidates posted content about drinking or using drugs or sharing confidential information from a previous employer. Only seven percent of respondents said they had not rejected a candidate based on information from a social networking site.


Your personal profile still needs to be professional

We asked our Facebook fans if they used their profile for professional reasons and most didn’t, saying that they kept their profile under lock and key. (Sidenote: you may want to double-check your settings, because I saw more than you think I did.) But even if a potential employer can’t get to your full profile to see what you’re posting, he/she may be judging you based solely on your profile photo. Therefore, if you look slovenly or your artistic photo could be viewed as risque or vulgar, a recruiter probably isn’t going to call you. Put up a clean, clear head and shoulders photo just to be taken seriously. The same goes for your Twitter account, which leads me to how you’re branding yourself and how you’re coming across online.

Staying positive is work in and of itself

It’s so easy to be a Negative Ned or Nancy in social media. Typically, you’re joining a community of people who are in the same boat, or you can easily access other people who validate your feelings. I’ve been unemployed, and I know that it’s an awful experience. You typically feel directionless, worthless, as if you have no desirable skills and that you’ll be unemployed until the end of time. And it’s okay to be angry, disappointed and upset about all these things and to express all of those feelings in a healthy way to friends and family — even through social media outlets. But be careful about how negative you get and how the company you keep can reflect upon you in the eyes of others.

Incessant complaining or persistent negativity can send potential employers running once they’ve found you, because they don’t want someone with that kind of attitude coming in to their work environment to spread dissent among the other employees.

Think about it: If someone you’re connected to could possibly line you up with a job or refer you, would they if they see you’re constantly negative in posts or tweets? I’m also amazed at the people who actually go to social network sites of companies that they’ve applied to and they STILL have the audacity to post negatively. Do they think that will help their chances?

My suggestion is to always verbalize the negative thought if you have one and then, as Bethenny Frankel suggests, get to a place of yes. Switch around your attitude and turn your negative comment into an opportunity for a question about how to improve your chances or your skills or what else you can do to alleviate the pains of your job search.

Cleaning up your online brand can make a difference

Kaitlin wrote two articles on personal branding, and I think most people need to review these two pieces. Your marketable brand is you. Your job is not your brand. It’s your skills, personality, intelligence, aptitude to change and evolve and be a self-starter, etc. This should be reflected in your social media channels.

Other things to consider:

  • If you’re not in social media, what does that say about you to a recruiter or employer?
  • If you infrequently post to social media every three months, what does that say about you to a recruiter or employer?
I participated in a job chat the other day that discussed what to do when you’re unemployed. Recruiters agreed that a robust social media presence demonstrated that a candidate wasn’t just sitting around doing nothing and was a self-starter, had an appetite to learn and engage in dialogue and discuss issues. Even if you’re at square one, here are tips for how to utilize social media for your job search.
Your homework – think about these questions:
  • How often are you utilizing social media as part of your job search process (even if you’re employed and looking for another opportunity)?
  • What do you think your social media profiles say about you to a potential employer if he or she reviewed it?
  • What changes would you make in your social activity knowing that recruiters are now looking for your content?
As always, if you have more comments, stories of success or questions, post it below! Photo courtesy JakeCaptive/Flickr.