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Recruiters reveal: top 3 social media fails

Social media fails may be costing you the job. Most of us can’t live without social media. But make sure you put your cleaning gloves on and get your presence sparkling if you want to land your next role.

We asked Hays regional director Eliza Kirkby for three top social media fails by job seekers and effective ways to avoid them. Turns out it’s not just about what you post on social media.

  1. Watch for discrepancies.
    Kirkby says she’s seeing more and more candidates weeded out of shortlists by hiring managers because of discrepancies that show up through their social media accounts. Recent examples include candidates who have covered up gaps or short contracts in their CV but forgotten to align this information with their online profile, or vice versa. Employers are checking this increasingly. Even if you still get an interview because you’re an otherwise good character you may find yourself being asked about the discrepancy, says Kirkby. “The worst case and we have seen it happen is that you’re removed from the shortlist.”

  2. Posting inappropriate material.
    This isn’t just images or comments about what might be considered traditionally inappropriate such as pornography, sexism or racism. Kirkby cites the example of a candidate who had a marketing director role offer withdrawn after the employer checked out her social media profiles. It turned out that the candidate had made scathing postings containing swear words after receiving poor service from an organisation. To make matters worse she had captured and posted screen shots of conversations. “This raised legal and privacy issues and the organisation (that had offered the job) was alarmed about the appropriateness of that candidate’s communication,” says Kirkby.

  3. The timing of postings.
    Whilst candidates may think about what they are posting, many don’t give a thought to the “when”. Employers are looking increasingly at the timing of postings. Kirkby has seen instances where the hiring manager has refused to employ an otherwise good candidate because they have spent too much time on social media during work hours. “The employer might have a question mark around their focus,” she says.


These and other social media fails can be conquered by harnessing your feeds to boost your chances of securing work. They include:

  • Create a positive brand image.
    Social media is a great way to sell brand you. “Everything you do can have an impact on that overall brand,” says Kirkby. 

    Tweet me!

  • Position yourself as someone who is going places and is a thought leader in your industry. Make sure your photographs and postings sound professional. Post positive, industry-related updates regularly across all channels. Also keep your private profiles private. Connect with colleagues and business associates on professional social media and keep your private profiles under wraps.

  • Research your target. 
    Research social media to find out about the organisation, the interviewer/s and your potential manager. This will help you discover shared contacts, prepare for the interview and have some good questions to ask up your sleeve. But avoid being too enthusiastic, says Kirkby and don’t send friend requests to individuals at the organisation before you get the job.

Finally, whether you’re monitoring or actively job seeking, take the time to clean up your social media profiles. Go back and delete any postings or photos on your personal timeline or public groups that you’ve had second thoughts about. Start regular positive postings that market you as someone who is heading places. Lastly, don’t forget to Google yourself to see if you’ve missed anything.

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