In today’s world, we feel the need to write posts about our thoughts, our looks, what we’re doing, and where we’re going, freely on social media. But do we ever ask ourselves: how does this affect us when seeking employment, and what kind of message is this sending to prospective employers?
Social media has, without a doubt, become a major part of our everyday lives. According to Statista.com, there are 4.6 billion social media users in the world, with the most popular social network being Facebook. A survey by the EU Statistics Agency has revealed that over 80% of the population in Malta aged between 16 and 74 are active on social media. This makes Malta the second highest EU state which makes use of social media, right after Hungary.
The world before social media led to candidates seeking employment through the following methods:
- Word of mouth
- Physical drop offs of CV’s to employers
- Checking vacancies on newspapers
- Using small and few recruitment agencies available at the time
Social media has opened up a whole new world for candidates and employers; candidates have countless avenues to search for jobs, while companies also have multiple platforms to find candidates, which is in part due to social media introducing speed and transparency. This means that employers not only have better access to candidates, but they also have better access to information about candidates. It is no secret that social media is commonly used by employers to carry out ‘background checks’ on job applicants, especially when they are inundated with applications and are looking for tools to narrow down the applicant pool.
In contrast to other countries, there are currently no specific laws in Malta that regulate the use of pre-screening through social media during the recruitment process. This means that your next potential employer will be able to get a glimpse of who you are through your personal (or otherwise) social media activity, and search for those snippets of information which are of most interest to them.
Candidates reveal a surprisingly substantial amount of information about themselves through their online activities. Many use social media as a platform to voice every thought that matters to them, no matter how trivial or controversial this may be, the aim is to be heard by as many people as possible. It is each applicant’s responsibility to maintain their own privacy settings and monitor information that is publicly viewable. A simple picture, a comment, or a link can say a lot about one’s character.
At Konnekt, we have first hand experienced in cases where candidates have been overlooked due to social media pre-screening by the employer, which resulted in the employer coming to the conclusion that the applicant is not the right fit for the culture of the company and therefore turning them down. A simple Google search of an applicant’s name can pull up several results which can be positive, such as achievements, or unfortunately not that positive, such as someone involved in a criminal case.
CareerBuilder held a survey in 2016 which revealed that 60% of employers research candidates online. This has increased significantly from 11% in 2006. The survey also asked employers why they use social networks to research candidates, with the most popular response being that they do so to see whether the job seeker presents himself or herself professionally (65%), followed by knowing if they are good fit for the company culture.
The survey also revealed that 34% of employers who scanned social media profiles did in fact find content that impacted their decision of hiring the candidate. Reasons for overlooking candidates included inappropriate photos/posts or evidence of substance abuse, poor communication skills, bad mouthing previous employers, and discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion.
On the other hand, the survey also revealed that 29% of surveyed hiring managers discovered positive factors about the candidate on social media that led to a job offer. Such factors include; professional image, good references, good communication style, and background information supported professional qualifications.
This shows that social media can leave a positive impact when used correctly. Using professional social networks such as LinkedIn can provide you the chance to market yourself for career opportunities by having an updated profile highlighting your current and previous job experiences, sharing professional content, using blog postings to show off your portfolio of work, and receiving recommendations and endorsements.
As experts in the recruitment industry, we truly believe that in order to be a well-rounded job seeker, you, as a candidate must maintain a professional social media presence (on all social media platforms). In today’s job market, you must be sure to ask yourself whether you are leaving a positive impression on those in your social network – especially those who don’t know you. First impressions leave a lasting impact so remember to post responsibly. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Finance & Legal Recruitment Specialist
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