As of October 2011, the unemployment rate in the United States is still holding steady at 9.0%. This number obviously doesn’t include the underemployed and the millions more who have lost their unemployment benefits, from which the percentage of unemployed is generated. If you’re one of the 9% — or suffering through a part-time or low-paying job — you’re likely still looking for full-time work. Leveraging social media can be critical in finding your next career move, especially if developing content, marketing, or customer service is going to be a component of your next job. Making sure your online presence is perfect is just as important as making sure your resume and cover letter are without error, and that you demonstrate a professional demeanor if and when called in for an interview.
But are you putting your best foot forward online? We wrote earlier about how a recent study revealed that 91% of companies have used social media to screen job applicants. If a company interviewing you for a position finds your social media profiles, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing — companies polled in the previously mentioned study indicated that demonstration of a good personality, creativity, and solid communication skills actually encouraged the company to hire those individuals. However, indications of inappropriate comments, photos, updates about drinking, and discriminatory statements were among the reasons an employer rejected a candidate. Though avoiding these behaviors are obvious ways to be rejected outright, how can you make a qualitative good impression on a company with which you are interviewing? Here are five bad social media habits to quit that are making you look bad — and you might not even know it:
Some people love them — and everyone else hates them. Automatic Direct Messages on Twitter occur when a Twitter user utilizes a service to automatically DM anyone who follows them. Typically these messages are self-serving and spammy, such as this one:
Should a recruiter follow you on Twitter and receive an automatic DM from you, they may sense that you are either lazy (since you set up an automatic service on Twitter), impersonal (since you had a robot tweet on your behalf), or selfish (since the message likely resembles the one sampled above). If you would like to personally greet new followers, set up your Twitter account to email you whenever you receive a new follower, or utilize lists in TweetDeck and HootSuite to show you new followers. You can then greet them organically and with a personal touch, which will no doubt impress the company with which you want to work.
Sharing All of Your Facebook Posts with All of the Same People
Facebook has made hundreds of changes over the years, and we all agree that we don’t like all of them. One new feature that you may not know about is the implementation of lists. Facebook users can now set up lists that allow you to share each post with a specific group of users. (For those of you on Google+, this is like the Circles function.) Using lists can be critical while looking for a job so as not to share personal information — such as your bar crawls every weekend. Since Facebook can actually help you get a job, you may not want to make it 100% private, but you can use these lists to only make certain posts — such as insights news and trends in your industry — public.
Not Replying to or Retweeting Others
Social media is, by definition, intended to be a social platform. It was not intended to be a soapbox (if it was, I can only imagine the alternative names for Facebook). Should a recruiter find your Twitter account (or other social media profiles) and only see updates from you and about you, yet lacking replies or responses to information shared by either, these HR execs may be inclined to think you are self-absorbed and tuned out to the input, thoughts, and advice of others. This obviously may not be the case, but it is important to remember that the hiring process is used to assess how well you can not only work, but work well with others. Be sure your social media accounts demonstrate this to the best of your ability.
You’ve heard the saying: Blogs are like… well, never mind. Everyone seemingly does have one, though. They’re free, easy to personalize, and a great option for sharing your thoughts about a topic that you care about. If you’re unemployed or looking to transition in your career, utilize a blog to demonstrate your expertise. Blogs can be a portfolio of knowledge, of written work, or even of photography or other design. There is no excuse to not have a blog, especially when trying to impress a company with which you want to work.
Twitter is becoming slowly infiltrated with MySpace refugees who somehow failed to learn that numbers are not a replacement for letters, and inter-capping words isn’t how civilized people communicate. However, that does not mean proper punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling has failed to exist entirely. Demonstrating strong communication skills, which includes the ability to write, is necessary for success at any job, and any errors in the application process will quickly land you in the proverbial trashcan. Yes, it’s easy to misplace punctuation on Twitter and Facebook, but taking the time to proofread everything you do while applying for jobs could make or break a job offer. It will just make you look better to everyone else as well.
If you have been looking for a job, or are in charge of the hiring process at your company, what bad social media habits do you think applicants should quit to help improve their job prospects? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.