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Published on March 15, 2021

How Social Media Can Hurt Your Job Search And Your Future Career

How Social Media Can Hurt Your Job Search And Your Future Career

It may seem that social media is your private network of friends and followers where you’d be able to post and share what’s really on your mind in a given moment. However, this assumption is misleading since these “private” activities of yours are there for everyone to see, including your potential employers.

Studies show that 90% of employers consider the candidate’s social media activity when hiring and 79% of HRs have rejected a candidate because of what they found on their social media.[1] Therefore, it only makes sense to pay attention to our present and past social media activity and not let our social networks harm our professional prospects.

If you are searching for a new job or considering a career change in the future, be aware of these 6 ways how social media can hurt your job search.

1. Having Offensive Posts or Tweets

It’s never a good idea to post disrespectful things, but it’s even more frivolous to do so on your social media accounts. A wise employer will go through your post history scouting for red flags like aggressive tweets, illegal stuff, very unpopular opinions, or badmouthing someone publicly.

Alternatively, you might have posted something that you believed in the past, which you don’t anymore. Or, you may have tweeted something you don’t mean in the heat of an argument.

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The Tweet Deleter app analyzed and summarized over 200M deleted tweets in 2020 in an infographic and found that most deleted tweets contained either profanities or keywords related to race.[2] Giving a better impression to potential employers was one of the top reasons that Tweet Deleter’s surveyed users mentioned for cleaning up their feeds.

To improve your chances of landing the job you want, make sure your past mistakes aren’t still visible on your Facebook or Twitter wall.

2. Posting Controversial Jokes

Sharing jokes and TikTok videos is a favorite pastime for many people these days. If you too love to share funny videos, make sure their content is not dubious or potentially offensive. The most sensitive topics are usually religion and politics. The smartest thing you can do is keep your most contentious opinions (including jokes) to yourself and your closest personal friends.

Remember—even if you didn’t mean for something to be disrespectful, the person reading your profile might not understand your sense of humor or satire. What you share or say online is seen by many people who don’t really know you, so they may not always get it if something is meant to be a joke.

3. Complaining About Your Previous Employers Online

If you’ve had a rough day at work, don’t rush to social media to let off your steam. If a recruiter or your future boss sees that you’ve criticized your employer online (or shared some confidential information about your workplace), they’ll have every reason to think you’d do the same to them if they do hire you.

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Even if you are, in fact, fully justified in your opinions and a client or employer really deserved to be publicly called out, lack of context is the problem here. It’s very difficult to convey the context of the situation on social media like Twitter where you are limited to 280 characters. Without context, you risk simply looking like a bitter employee.

So, next time you need to cry out about your boss, call your best friend or go for a coffee with a supportive colleague instead of bashing it out on social media.

4. Presenting a Negative or Provocative Image of Yourself

Another way social media can hurt your job search is when you create a negative image of yourself online. Social media is the place where you can polish your “personal brand.” Your potential employer (or even your present boss!) might browse your social media profiles to discover who you are outside of your work resume and professional job interview.

Look at your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed with a neutral eye. Have you posted photos from parties with alcohol or other provocative or inappropriate photographs? Ambiguous tweets, instances of oversharing, or even simply being negative about everything could reflect badly on you. 51% of hiring managers admit that they’re checking social networks to see if the candidate will be a good fit with the company culture.[3] If you come off as negative to recruiters, they might decide they don’t want to work with you.

Try to keep your social media image and the content of your posts constructive and positive by sharing your hobbies and interests, being respectful, and presenting yourself as a social and well-balanced personality. Ideally, polish your social accounts (especially LinkedIn) to demonstrate your knowledge in your field of work.

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5. Lying About Your Qualifications

A study by OfficeTeam showed that 38% of senior managers have removed an applicant from consideration for a position after discovering their lies.[4] If you’ve ever thought about spicing up your resume, for example, by giving yourself a higher role in a given company or showing a longer work experience than you actually had, be careful.

It may not seem like upfront lying if you “stretch the truth a little” on your resume or cover letter in an attempt to land a job. However, if you are caught, more than the job at hand is threatened. You may be hired initially and later fired with embarrassment once your lies are revealed, or worse, you could damage your reputation in your professional circles.

Some ways your social media can reveal your lies:

  • Dates don’t add up – If the recruiter has even the slightest doubt, they may call your previous employer, and—oops—you’re busted.
  • Posts don’t match your words – Does your CV say you got laid off a month ago? And there you are two months earlier posting images of sunbathing on a tropical beach somewhere far far away.
  • Your profiles are too vague – Experienced recruiters will see if you’re trying to disguise lack of experience by ambiguous phrases like ‘”I’m familiar with . . .” or “I’ve been involved in . . .” Even if this is not outright lying, expect the interviewer to ask some direct questions about your responsibilities to make sure you actually have the qualifications.

6. Not Having Any Social Media Profiles

You may have chosen to avoid social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for privacy reasons or to reduce your phone usage. If so, consider having a profile at least on LinkedIn as having no social presence at all can harm your prospects.

In this digital world, you are invisible online if you aren’t on any social media. Some employers might not see this as an issue while others might find it suspicious or might consider you to be out-of-date.

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Furthermore, by not having any social presence, you are missing out on a chance to leave a positive impression on your potential employer. Some examples of social media moves that could create a very good impression about you:

  • You’ve connected to your industry professionals, leading experts, or media outlets on Twitter.
  • You’ve updated your LinkedIn profile with your detailed work history and relevant information.
  • You share industry news and discussions and have a solid professional network online.
  • You have a professional-looking or at least neutral profile photo.

Turn Social Media Into Your Strength, Instead of a Liability

Social media can hurt your job search or become an obstacle on the way to your desired career, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, a good social media profile can increase your chances of getting hired!

Besides, even your present employer may be checking your social profiles time after time and dislike something they see. For these reasons, always be mindful of what you post online, what and where you comment, and even who you follow.

More Advice For Job Seekers

Featured photo credit: inlytics | LinkedIn Analytics Tool via unsplash.com

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Ieva Sipola

Ieva helps tech startups access big markets and is a passionate advocate of alternative work formats.

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Published on March 24, 2021

8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

8 Easy Steps To Finding A Career Right For You

In the U.S., workers on average spend 90,000 hours of their lives working.[1] This means that it is likely you will spend more time working than with your spouse or partner. For this reason, it is especially important to love your job. When you are in a job you love, it feels custom-made just for you. You feel your values reflected in the company’s mission. You feel rewarded just for working there — “Thank God it’s Monday,” you think each week, and the paycheck is nice, too.

Here are 8 steps for finding the career that fits your personality like a glove.

1. Look At Yourself Carefully

Firstly, Look Inside

Some diagnostic tests help you assess who you are and what jobs make a good fit. Among free assessments you can take, the Myers-Briggs personality test is among the most popular for gauging how you perceive the world and make decisions. It consists of some 90 either-or questions that indicate whether you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert, and what influences perceptions.

Knowing yourself and the qualities associated with your personality type can help you decide whether you would be more comfortable in a front- or back-office setting, are more of an “ideas” or “execution” person, or prefer an open office or a quiet, enclosed setting to do your best work.

Career Explorer is another diagnostic careers tool, and offers a free Career Test to reveal how your interests and goals match up against some 1,000 careers. The test asks your general interest in a handful of random careers, along with your career satisfaction in previous jobs, and predicts career matches that fit your profile.

Then, Look Outside

Your friends and family members often know you better than you know yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask them, “What kind of career do you see me in?” or “How can I find a career that’s right for me? and pay attention to their answers.

Also, think back to talents you enjoyed in your younger years, particularly those that elicited comments from others along the lines of “You’re going to make a great ___________ some day.” Others often see special abilities in you that you may have overlooked.

2. Write Lists

The perfect career awaits you if you do your homework. Keep careful lists of the qualities you possess and which types of businesses will reward those qualities.[2]

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Similarly, when your friends have ideas for you, write them down. You want to be able to go back and reflect on different career paths.

Putting pen to paper — or fingers to keyboards — and allowing yourself to follow ideas where they lead is a valuable step for finding the career that is right for you.

What elements of past or current jobs and experiences stick out as the most enjoyable? List them. Think of careers where you could recapture some of those elements.

Write down the activities where you find real joy. Do you love decorating or rearranging your living room? Could this translate to fulfilling work in interior design or merchandising? Or do you find children endlessly entertaining? Perhaps you would find teaching or youth development a rewarding career path.

Generate a list of ideas, no matter how eccentric they may seem, and see if any patterns emerge.

Write a Master List of All Your Strengths and All Your Weaknesses

Be as specific as possible. If you hate waking up before 11 a.m., it is going to be hard to hold down a 9 to 5 job (unless you can work remotely in another part of the country with a different time zone). If you love talking to people, maybe the back office of a research department is too isolating for you.

Are you high energy or laid back? Do your strengths or weaknesses tend to make you a natural leader or more of a maverick? Own your particular personality strengths and quirks, and think about the various work environments where you could make the most of them. Do you like receiving direction or chafe when someone gives you feedback?

3. Set up 15-Minute Informational Interviews

All of this introspection will help you narrow your search criteria, but then it must lead to action. Ask around to see if there is anyone you know who would spare a few minutes to discuss her field with you. It could be a friend or a friend-of-a-friend or even one of your parents’ friends. You may be surprised to find that people often want to offer advice on the steps to take to start out in their field.

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Prepare some questions in advance, for example: ask how the person ended up in her field, what best prepared her for her career, which aspects she most enjoys, and how the field is changing.

Depending on how forthcoming the person is, you might also ask if she would mind if you sent a resume to keep on file in case of any future openings.

4. Read Job Postings

Before you apply for a job, start reading job postings in the two or three fields that excite you. You can find postings on LinkedIn, MonsterJobs, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Simply Hired. Do you feel goosebumps zipping down your spine when you read about certain jobs? It could be an indication that this is the job of your dreams.

Familiarize yourself with job descriptions to learn common industry terms, roles, and in-demand skills. Glassdoor, for example, gives you an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to work for a given company — but keep an open mind, too, knowing that former employees with a grudge are usually the most motivated to post reviews.

5. Write Your Resume

Your resume should reflect the skills you possess and the specific skills sought in a job. But be sure to customize and change your resume appropriately for each position you pursue. Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, companies will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

Research the organization that you are targeting and try to work in examples that have relevance to their customers or clients, or to issues taking place industry-wide. State how you can add value by quantifying results you achieved in former jobs or even volunteer activities. For example, “coordinated silent auctions for children’s advocacy organizations that brought in $29,000.”

Ideally, you will want to concisely recount your skills to make a riveting impression as a professional ideally suited for the position.

Check out these 10 Killer Resume Tips to Nail Your Dream Job.

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6. Watch a Movie or Two That Features a Character Working in the Field

While movies tend to exaggerate, you may see something that either confirms that you belong in that environment or scares you away from it. Career conflicts are a genre in themselves — you can find most any job represented in some form on the big screen.

The character played by Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada,” who successfully navigated her nightmare boss played by Meryl Streep, showed the ups and downs of working on a fashion magazine. Meanwhile, “Legally Blonde” likely inspired a whole horde of young women to enter careers in law.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Risk

When it comes to job-hunting, the biggest risk is not taking a risk. Write a cover letter that truly reflects your own personality. Remember that you need to stand out, not just blend in to the hundreds of “blah-blah-blah” letters.

So, if you’re funny, be funny. If you’re serious, adopt a more measured tone. If you’re intellectual, use bigger words. Be you, not what you think you should be. When you’re authentic, it improves the likelihood that the career you find will be the right fit for you.

Think of ways to show passion for the career path you are pursuing — and then make the case for why it is the right fit for you. Hiring managers look for candidates with dynamism behind their desire to work for the company. Choose words that reveal that you are passionate, not passive: instead of “helpful,” your findings were “game-changing.” Instead of “useful,” your discoveries proved “transformational.”

Here’s How to Write A Cover Letter That Stands out from 500 Applicants.

8. Thank Everyone Who Helped You — and Especially Everyone Who Interviewed You

The gracious job-hunter lands a job faster. Even if you don’t snag a job the first time around, when you remember to thank the people who granted you an interview, those people will remember you and think of you for other opportunities. Thanks should also go to those who provided you with a recommendation or who took time with you for an informational interview.

While it may seem old school or downright quaint, a handwritten thank-you card still carries cachet. It shows that you took time to be appreciative. Or, if you send a note electronically, sincerely show gratitude and help the person remember you by bringing up something he said that you found helpful or insightful.

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A thank you to one person should not be able to be swapped with a communiqué to any other person who helped you in your search.

You Are on a Campaign to Land a Job until You Land the Job

You will likely have to meet several people in a company. Inevitably, those people will talk to each other. Make sure the emails that you write them are different from each other instead of canned notes with different names attached. Take a look at these tips on how to write a thank-you email.

Show unwavering cordiality and professionalism to everyone whom you encounter in the company. Even if you come across the receptionist entering the restroom at the same time as you, politely hold the door. Your good impression will travel throughout the office network.

Bonus: Return the Favor When You’ve Landed Your Job

Congratulations! You finally landed! Now it’s time to pay it forward.

Remember all those who helped you follow the key steps to your sought-after career, and never pass up an opportunity to help others land jobs they love.

Returning the favor will make you even more appreciative of having found the right career for you. And, when you look for your next job, you will find that you’ve built a network of helpful people on whom you can rely.

More Job Hunting Tips

Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

Reference

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