For the most part, humans are social beings. Long before there was written communication, people gathered together, often at communal meals, and shared stories. Culture and traditions were passed down from one generation to the next through verbal repetition. Occupational training was in-person and hands-on, for example, experienced craftsmen taught apprentices. Fathers and mothers set examples of how to run a household for their sons and daughters.
Today, many social gatherings and occupational training courses have gone digital. Stories are relayed in electronic format for people to listen to or read directly. If one is interested in the lifestyle of someone from another country they can “Google” it. If someone wants to get training or certification, they often watch a video or take a remote-learning class. Nowadays, households have electronic devices inside refrigerators, washers, and dryers. As for communal meals, there are times when a rule has to be made to put away all devices.
These changes occurred over hundreds of centuries. The internet, however, has only been in existence since the late 1960s. Furthermore, it hasn’t always been in its present format. From then until now, a lot of growth has happened. The swiftness in which this has transpired has left many companies and people struggling to keep up. Since humans tend to socialize and the internet and social media, in particular, give them a sense of immunity, if not anonymity, people often reveal things that they may not have in previous times. What many may not know, or bring to mind, is that what happens on the internet – social media, especially – goes into cyberspace, where it is difficult, if not impossible to remove.
What does all of this mean, and why should you care? That depends on the perspective from which it is viewed and what the end goal happens to be. For the purposes of this post, the focus will be on the interconnectedness of companies, job seekers, recruiters and how they all relate to the internet and social media.
The end goal of employers is to hire candidates that fit the bill in areas, including but not limited to skill set, policy adherence, and company culture. Chiefly, the end goal of job seekers is to become employed at a company that can meet their overall needs. In particular, they wish to work where they feel comfortable and valued while obtaining a paycheck that is comparable with others in their role.
There are some intriguing behind-the-scenes interactions that occur before a hiring team and a potential candidate meet, or perhaps never meet. A knowledgeable job seeker will research a company prior to applying or accepting an invitation from a recruiter. A company’s website will often portray a clean-cut version of the company’s vision and their culture. However, reading reviews on companies based on previous and current employees’ insights might reveal something altogether different. The overall results of that research will determine next steps.
Speaking of steps, let’s take a brief step back and go over some concepts that may or may not be familiar. The chief role of hiring teams is to assist in filling open positions within a company. A hiring team could be formed through the combined effort of Human Resources Department employees and hiring managers within a company. If the opening is a hard-to-recruit role, the company may seek assistance from an outside firm that specializes in finding talent. Talent can be defined as someone unemployed seeking employment or someone employed who has the experience and knowledge base another company is seeking.
With those things understood let’s look at a couple of things that happen behind-the-scenes. After a company puts the word out that they have open positions either on their website or through a job board, applications begin to pour in. It’s a given that even if a thousand applications come in, only a limited number of applicants will be selected. This generally requires someone or a group of people within the company to begin the filtering process. Whichever way they choose to narrow things down, there are times when there will be many suitable candidates, even after rounds of interviews. Like it or not, companies could utilize a person’s social media presence, or lack thereof, to make decisions to streamline the process. This can be good or bad for potential candidates.
Some of you reading this may believe that your qualifications are enough and your social media presence shouldn’t matter. In a way, you would be right. In reality, things are not that simple. Perhaps this single sentence written by Robert Nissenbaum that was published via Social Media Today on April 3, 2015 can put things in a different light. He said, “It should be common knowledge that what we post and how we respond affects our reputation.” It is simple, truthful, and gets straight to the point. What is shared on the internet, via social media can represent an individual in an unintended way. More to the point, if a company spots negative information about someone online, a good percentage of the time, it was due to that person’s lapse of judgement. Obviously, no one has control over what someone else has to say. That applies equally to employee reviews on a company or what someone says about another person on social media. What everyone should have control over is what they, themselves, post on blogs, tweets, and other forms of social media. Some may think, “I won’t post anything, then nothing can hinder me from getting a job.” That is an option but with so many recruiters out there looking for potential candidates, you’ll be missing out on opportunities you didn’t know existed.
Others of you may say, “What does a post from 2015 have to do with today?” Fair question, here’s an answer. When you compare two surveys done by CareerBuilder, you will notice a dramatic difference in how often and why companies utilize social media to look for information about potential candidates.
On April 16, 2013, Jacquelyn Smith shared within a Forbes article that CareerBuilder did a survey of “2,303 hiring managers and human resource professionals” in 2012. It stated that “37% of employers use social networks to screen potential job candidates”. When the surveyed populations were asked, “why they use social networks to research candidates,” 65% responded “to see if the job seeker presents himself or herself professionally”. Furthermore, 51% wanted to “know if the candidate is a good fit for the company culture”. Others, 45%, wanted to “learn more about his or her qualifications”. Of those surveyed that did look at social networks, 34% “found content that has caused them not to hire the candidate”. Reasons cited for this decision, “provocative or inappropriate photos and information posted on his or her profile” and “evidence of drinking and/or drug use on his or her social profile”. Other reasons included: “poor communication skills, he or she bad mouthed previous employers, made discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion, or lied about qualifications”. The article goes on to say “no matter what information is found on a candidate, and regardless of where it’s found, the process has to abide by fair and equal hiring practices”.
In comparison, a press release on August 9, 2018, CareerBuilder shared interesting results and statistics based on a Harris Poll conducted for them between April 4, 2018 and May 1, 2018. “It included a representative sample of more than 1,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes in the private sector”. If you would like to do an in-depth study of all the statistics cited, visit here. One thing that stood out is that “seven in ten employers use social networking sites to research candidates during hiring processes”. If all things were equal the difference between 37% in 2012 and 70% in 2018 is significant. Chances are that the next survey conducted will show another increase.
While what a person has put on social media in the past can be deleted, it may be better to leave it alone. Instead, work on improving situations. Show that you’ve overcome negatives – things you once did, shared, or said for which you are no longer proud. Show growth in your communication skills. Provide evidence that you are learning and growing. The icing on the proverbial cake, if you’ve grown personally and professionally, is to acknowledge that it might be time to share how you did it, so others can learn from you.
The team at Jobready2dey is constantly learning, growing, and sharing. If you need to gain more insights for your particular situation or you wish to become career ready in other ways, reach out.
Blogger Credit: Lynn Hallbrooks is a Certified Career Coach and the Staff Writer at Jobready2dey, LLC. She is a seasoned content creator and has a wealth of experience navigating the troubled waters of today’s job search. Through her extensive training, field experience and passion for lifting job seekers, she endeavors to help job seekers become Jobready2dey!
Graphic Credit: Jobready2dey’s Content Team
CareerBuilder press release: https://press.careerbuilder.com/2018-08-09-More-Than-Half-of-Employers-Have-Found-Content-on-Social-Media-That-Caused-Them-NOT-to-Hire-a-Candidate-According-to-Recent-CareerBuilder-Survey#assets_all
How social media Can Help (Or Hurt) You in Your Job Search by Jacquelyn Smith and published on Forbes online on April 16, 2013
Jobready2dey – http://jobready2dey.com/
The Evolution of Social Media: How Did It Begin, and Where Could It Go Next?
The Role Of Social Media In The Employment Process by Robert Nissenbaum posted on Social Media Today