September 3, 2015
What employers think about your social media activity
Every job applicant should know that if you apply for a job and the employer thinks you might be a good fit, the hiring manager will most likely check you out online first. Employers use this method to weed out applicants.
Marv Russell, an HR and leadership consultant, who works in Chicago and New York City, says he’s more interested in what he learns from researching a job prospect online than what he gets from personal references.
“I think it’s a pretty standard thing in the industry,” says Russell. “I will use it to determine your level of professionalism. I don’t know any employer who’s not doing it right now.”
So what exactly are employers looking for when they Google you?
1. Your personal brand.
How do you carry yourself online, particularly on social media? In addition to inappropriate photos and use of language on social media, employers are also looking for disparaging comments about your previous employer, says Tim Tolan, a senior partner at Sanford Rose Associates, an executive search firm whose specialties include healthcare IT.
“That gives them a preview of coming attractions,” says Tolan.
“The way I’m looking at it is, your name is your brand. Do you respect your brand?” says Russell. “If you don’t, I wonder if you can respect my brand? Is there anything you have posted and done that I would be embarrassed by if you were under my employment?”
Adds John Fulcher, Director of the Healthcare West Division of Bauer Consulting Group, based in El Paso, Texas: “Employers are looking at your social media sites to glean information about your personal and professional life.”
2. Passion and cultural fit.
How do you spend your time outside of work? What are your your personal and professional interests, and how do they fit in with the prospective employer’s? “They are looking for ways outside of the interviewing process to understand what you are passionate about, as well as, what motivates you,” says Fulcher. “They are essentially trying to determine if you are a cultural fit with the company and if you can represent the company well.”
3. Time management.
Are you the kind of employee who whiles away time on social media when you are at work? Tolan says one of the things he looks for on a candidate’s Twitter feed is not only what he or she says, but at “what time” the job applicant says it. In effect, if a job candidate is on Twitter all day when he or she should be working, that would concern him, he says.
4. Legal issues.
Many criminal records are online and Tolan checks to see if there is anything he should be concerned about when evaluation a job candidate. He also looks for civil cases, as well. Mainly, if you have a lawsuit against a former employer or if a former employer is suing you, he says, “that’s like a neon flag.”