Think twice before you post on social media

The competitive Recruiter and An Introduction to Recruitment are two of the more than 60 soft-skills workshops which we facilitate.

When working with delegates on these recruitment courses, the question of social media in the recruitment process is generally a highly debated topic. This makes sense when we consider how quickly social media platforms have appeared and morphed - change being the only constant! I have done a lot of research into this aspect of recruitment and have set out some of my findings below.

Depending from which sites one draws statistical information, it appears that a rough average of 90% of future employers do in fact visit the social media pages of applicants, with only 10% indicating they don’t consider this a worthwhile tool in the recruitment process.

There are a number of interesting articles published which weigh up the pros and cons of engaging in what is termed ‘e-snooping’ or ‘e-stalking’. This leads us to ask the question: Could this type of ‘reference checking’ be seen as a best practice?

Interestingly, both of the terms coined to describe the practise of accessing an applicant’s social media pages are inherently pejorative. They bring to the mind a sneaky detective clothed in a trench coat, wielding a magnifying glass!

However, regardless of how we feel about a future employer trawling our social media sites in order to gauge if we would fit into their organisation, it happens and it’s legal!

A cross section of further stats I unearthed, presented a breakdown of which sites were most often accessed to find out about us. Once again, although the numbers varied, the figures panned out roughly as follows:

Facebook 70%
Twitter 55%
LinkedIn 40%

Obviously there are other platforms, but this trio featured head and shoulders above any of the others.

What I did find interesting is that, not only have studies been done to ascertain how these breakdown, they have figures which indicate exactly when during the recruitment process practitioners turn to social media resources. For me, this was actually more relevant, because few of us are aware that this is often the first port of call once the CV has been received.

After first screening the CVs to asses our suitability, it would appear that a significant number of recruiters prioritise visiting our social media pages ahead of any decision to make contact with us. Again, depending on which survey you read, these stats are remarkably similar across the board and, on average, tend to read as follows:

After screening CV, but before contact: 50%
After one initial contact (phone or interview): 20%
After a detailed interaction/conversation: 15%
At the reference checking stage: 4%
Don’t reference social media at all: 11%

A pattern is emerging – we are judged by what we choose to share. It’s highly irresponsible to post information which we wouldn’t want existing and/or future employers to know about us.

Logically, we could just amp our privacy settings really high to restrict anyone other than our friends, access. But we’re snookered here too! Apparently a relevant number of HR professionals shelve some CV’s if they can’t find a social media footprint for the candidate. Most especially in fields like marketing, PR, executive and other frontline positions.

So what should we take away from this? I recommend we err on the side of common sense when it comes to populating our social media profiles – particularly when job-hunting. Be aware that once it’s out there in the ether, it’s truly out there. Often there are going to be repercussions when we unwisely share personal information, compromising photos and/or controversial opinions on public platforms.

We do have a right to privacy, but in truth, the only real control we have over how anonymous ‘others’ judge us, is to be judicious about what we post. Your career could and most probably does, depend on our social media EQ.

Staff Training too, is morphing and adapting to the fast changing world of soft-skills training. Our strength lies in our ability to remain relevant but real in this dynamic industry.

Staff Training is a soft skills training provider offering more than 60 short courses nationwide. Check out our public hosted workshops here and our selection of online courses here.