Job seekers need to take note: most hiring managers check candidates’ social media pages. CareerBuilder polled thousands of employers in a national survey, finding an overwhelming number of HR personnel and hiring managers use social media for recruiting and hiring.

IT and sales professionals should be especially prepared when applying for a position: 76% of employers in IT and 65% in sales consider it an integral part of the process. Over half of employers in industries like retail and services do, too. So whether vying for a position at a San Francisco Bay Area tech firm or a customer service job in NYC, applicants need to understand the impression their social media is making on hiring staff.

The Good and the Bad

Hiring managers aren’t usually looking to uncover something negative. They typically use social media for fact-checking credentials on your resume. Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, says social media can provide a better picture of who is applying for a position. “Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resume or cover letter.”

This investigation on Facebook or Twitter can lead to either a positive or negative impression, depending on what the hiring manager finds. Take a look at the categories below to see what prompted hiring staff to reject or hire candidates based off what they saw on social media.

What Turns Employers Off

Here is what CareerBuilder lists as the top reasons HR passed up someone for a job after finding them on social media.

Inappropriate Images

Videos and photographs the employer finds offensive is the top way social media works against a candidate (46% of employers polled listed it). Think about the power of a picture. Images are integral to how we communicate online, so a provocative photo may be the most powerful and lasting turn off for a hiring manager.

Laura Betourne of Uproar PR suggests job seekers run a Google images search the same way HR will. “It’s possible there are photos from your social media accounts you may have thought were private, and do not want popping up on the first page of the search results.”

Drug and Alcohol Use

Having HR see pictures of drug and alcohol use on social media is roughly equivalent to showing up to an interview under the influence. It exhibits a lack of the maturity and professionalism employers want from their staff. 43% of employers who find such content click off and toss the candidate’s application.

Derogatory Comments

Hateful comments against people’s race, religion, gender, etc. soured 33% of employers surveyed. This is a prime example of how social media reveals a candidate. No company wants to bring on employees who can’t respect diversity and difference.

Unprofessional Posts

A candidate’s attitude about one job strongly reflects how they approach the next. Bad-mouthing coworkers, supervisors, or the company on social media is a predictor of trouble to come for 31% of employers.

Bad Writing

Like inappropriate pictures, poor writing skills are bound to stick out to hiring staff. Nearly a third of employers (29%) considered a lack of written communication skills on social media serious enough to reject the candidate outright.

What Employers Want to See

There is some very good news about the marriage between social media and hiring. If social media only communicated negative aspects of a candidate, it would make sense to shut down or hide social media profiles when applying for work. But 32% of hiring managers report giving someone the job based on something positive they viewed on their page/profile.

Confirmation of Qualifications

Seeing a confirmation of facts makes sense since this is the reason most hiring employers check social media to begin with. With 44% of hiring staff saying it helped the candidate land the job, all job seekers should make sure their biographical info on social media is accurate and up to date.

Professional Impression

The industry in question might determine what a professional image on social media looks like. It may mean a candidate networks via social media or that their feed is well-maintained. Whatever it looks like across various fields, a professional social media image prompted 44% of HR staff to hire the candidate who did it right.

One of the Tribe

Employers want to hire candidates congruent with the rest of their team, and 43% of respondents looked for this on social media. A company devoted to energy-efficiency will consider a member of a bike-commuting group a great fit with their company culture. They might only learn this about a candidate when they see Instagram pictures of her morning ride from Mountain View to Palo Alto. Let the best side of who you are shine through: that’s how to use social media to get a job and keep your SM authentic to who you are.

Lots of Interests and Experiences

Over a third of hiring managers polled (40%) liked seeing a wide range of interests on a candidate’s social media page. It communicates a prospective employee is well-rounded. An example: while they don’t want to see applicants posting drunk party photos, employers might be happy to see those vacation photos in Napa if the candidate is a wine connoisseur.

Excellent Writing

Social media posts aren’t known for their perfect grammar and punctuation. But the better the writing, the more likely a candidate is to be hired. 36% of employers who encountered great writing on an applicant’s social media page hired them with this in mind.

Social Media for Job Seekers

The information is public and easy to access, so no one can blame hiring managers for using social media to confirm facts and gain better insight into potential employees. The HR staff who weeded out candidates lacking communication skills or a professional attitude were probably thankful they bothered checking LinkedIn and Facebook.

Keeping the numbers produced by CareerBuilder’s survey in mind, job seekers should assume each hiring employer is screening them on social media. Maintaining a genuine yet professional social media presence is a key skill for candidates across all industries. Beyond avoiding a bad impression, a great social media page could be what convinces HR they have the right person for the job.

Staff

Kinetic Search is a top San Francisco Bay Area boutique Creative, Marketing and HR staffing agency. Reach us at (650) 485-3025.