If you’re looking for a job, here’s a solid, simple piece of advice: Lock up your social media accounts. After all, you want to present yourself in the best possible light to prospective employers and wouldn’t want any embarrassing photos to ruin your chances. But there’s one more thing that sabotage your job search, even if you think you’re presenting a squeaky clean image — lacking a social media presence.
This is the conclusion of a new blog post from RecruitiFi, a research firm that specializes in the recruiting and human resources industries. The post’s author, Doug Horn, singles out Facebook, explaining that while seemingly everyone maintains a profile on that particular social media network, many people don’t, and it could be affecting their ability to land new jobs.
“Employers tend to be suspicious of job applicants who do not have Facebook profiles,” Horn writes. “Employers may believe that a lack of a Facebook profile means there were so many violations that the account had to be deleted, or that the person in question has psychopathic tendencies.”
Horn said the argument that not maintaining a Facebook profile makes you a psychopath is inherently “flawed,” and that there are numerous reasons that people stay away from social media. An article from Forbes digs deeper into the issue, explaining that several mass murderers were found to forego using social media, and that by not having a Facebook page, people can give the impression that they have something to hide.
As many people probably thought they were separating their private lives from their professional lives by opting to not use networks like Facebook, that choice could actually be doing more harm than good.
Though considering someone who doesn’t have a Facebook page to be a psychopath is a gross overreaction, it is also important to look at this issue from the perspective of those doing the hiring. It’s only natural that businesses and hiring managers would want to get a better idea of who candidates or job applicants actually are, and look for any red flags. They can hardly be blamed for that.
But to actually hold the fact that an applicant doesn’t use Facebook against that person, as if it’s a character flaw of some sort? That’s a different issue.
According to data from Pew Research, 71% of online adults use Facebook, making it the most popular social media network on the Internet. The percentage of users declines with age, so it makes sense that the vast majority of job seekers would maintain a page on the network. So if you’re an applicant who doesn’t use Facebook, you’re already standing out.
And in the eyes of those making hiring decisions, probably not in a good way.
While people may be getting passed over for open positions due to their lack of a Facebook profile, what isn’t clear is whether other social media networks come into play. Since those usage numbers are significantly lower — 23% of online adults are on Twitter, and 26% are on Instagram, for example — it’s probably safe to assume they do not.
Another question that’s worth asking is: Which industries, or what kind of positions in particular, are hiring managers using social media in their decision-making process for? If a business is hiring for a highly skilled, highly paid position with a lot of responsibilities, it’ll want to know everything possible about its candidates. But for low-skill, low-wage work, with a lot of turnover? It doesn’t seem like the time and resources spent poring over each McDonald’s or Wal-Mart applicant’s social media habits would be a valuable use of time. Then again, who knows? It’s up to each company, and the person put in charge of the hiring process to decide.
You can turn the tables and think about this another way: Would you work for a company that doesn’t have a Facebook page or other social media accounts? That may be concerning to you as an applicant if it didn’t, so perhaps businesses taking social media presence into account during the hiring process isn’t so surprising.
Despite the reasoning, it appears that a good portion of companies are wondering whether applicants use Facebook, and may in fact see it as a flaw if you do not. It may be unfair or even unwise on their parts, but it’s happening. For job seekers without a profile, perhaps creating one could help their search. For others, at least be aware that there is at least one more reason you might not be getting hired.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger
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