Social Media and Job Seekers

22 Apr

Background

Before the advent of social media, emphasis on hiring candidates for a position within an organization focused primarily around their resume, their references, and how they performed in a formal interview. Candidates only had to worry about their resumes and their wit when it came to answering questions in the formal interview.

However, with the digital age came a whole new list of problems for job seekers. Employers are not only looking at the traditional aspects of job application, but are searching into potential employees personal lives through social media to find out more about them. While pictures of a candidate at a party, passed out on the coach, may be amusing to the candidate’s friends on a social media site, a potential employer may view that same photo as a reason to not hire the candidate, no matter how strong their resume. Candidates must now realize that everything on the internet has the potential to be public, and can affect their abilities to gain employment.

According to Next Web, in a survey 37% of employers admitted to looking up prospective employees on
Facebook (other studies have indicated over 50% of employers using social media screening) (Messieh, 2012).  65% of employers said that they “screen” on a Facebook to see if the prospective employee has a professional image, while 51% say they use social media screening to see if a prospective employee would be a good fit for the organization (Messieh, 2012). According to the Next Web survey, employers are using social media screen to look for inappropriate photos, examples of drinking and/or drug use, poor communication skills, bad mouthing previous employers, racist comments, and lying about qualifications as reasons to not hire a prospective employee (Messieh, 2012).

               

Current employees are also faced with a similar dilemma. In the past, an employee could talk to a friend about work related stresses, and perhaps talk poorly about their employer in a casual conversation. Such conversations do still exist today in restaurants, pubs, and via text message among employees. Yet today, increasing more employees are using social media as a way to “gripe” about their jobs, and are facing the consequences. As well, other conduct, such as illegal or questionable activities can go “viral” on social media, making employers face the choice of firing an employee so their organization is not associated with the employees conduct.

 

Social media conduct for both potential employees and current employees is vitally important. Both parties must be aware of how social media can affect their potential to get a job, as well as their current job.

Suggested Use of Social Media by Job Seekers/Current Employees

Job seekers are entering a highly competitive job market, with an economy recovering, barely, from a recession, and world financial crisis’s hampering growth in almost every industry. Internationalization of business has also increased the competition in the job market. Prospective employees must brand themselves and differentiate themselves from the competition in the job market.

Using Social Media

Many organizations are heavily investing in social media and digital platforms for marketing and advertising. Potential employees in these fields must be actively involved in as many forms of social media as possible. If an employer is looking to hire an employee to do social media related work, and finds out they do not have certain social media accounts (especially Facebook and Twitter), then they will move on to the next candidate that has such accounts and experience using them.

With so many forms of social media popping up every day, it is vitally important for prospective employees to be constantly researching about new forms of social media to keep their skills sharp and relevant. Current employees, especially in the marketing field must also stay constant and updated with new sources of social media, and use them effectively.

Consistency

Potential employees must display consistency among social media sites to be effectively. Similarly to how an organization wants to keep their “brand” consistent, employees must make sure their “brand”, themselves, is consistent throughout social and digital media. Prospective employees must keep all their sources of social media consistent throughout, and convey the same image.

Professionalism

Both prospective and current employees must you social media in a professional manner. Misuse of which has resulted in the termination of current employees, and inappropriate content has lead to many potential employees not being hired. Employees, both prospective and current must think of the consequences of what they post on social media, and must do their best to convey a professional image throughout their use of social media.

For Employers

Employers should use social media to screen perspective employees, but not in the way they are currently using it. Instead of going on a witch hunt of sorts, and looking for content that gives a reason not to hire a prospective employee, employers should be using social media to see the skill level of their prospective employees. Current employees should be encouraged to use social media in a professional manner, and experiment with new sources of social media.

However, employers still have to make sure prospective employees will fit into the company image and culture of the organization. It is an employer’s responsibility to do their due diligence on a prospective employee. Obvious examples of inappropriate content on social media should result in a prospective employee not getting hired. Employers are also responsible to make sure their current employees are using social media in a proper way.

 

Examples of Social Media’s Impact on Employees

The Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots

On June 15, 2011, the Vancouver Canucks lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins. Vancouver lost their best chance at a Stanley Cup victory in decades, and surprisingly, some employees lost their jobs as a result of the ensuing riots, all thanks to social media (Wilson, 2012). Before the game had official ended, trouble makers in the downtown core of Vancouver had already started a chain of events which lead to a full blown riot. The result was cars being torched and stores being looted. Unlike a similar riot which occurred in 1994 after another Canucks Stanley Cup lost, the crowd was armed with an important tool, social media.

As the riot went on, those not directly involved in the riot brought out their cell phones and cameras and recorded the destruction. Many of the photos were uploaded directly to Facebook, some by the actual perpetrators of looting and other crimes (Wilson, 2012). The recorded activities resulted in criminal charges for many, and groups were set up on Facebook were users collaborated to identify rioters by sharing pictures of the events.

While many rioters were not surprised when their criminal activities resulted in official charges, some were surprised to learn that their actions would cost them their jobs. Some of the photos from that fateful evening were plastered all over the major newspapers in Vancouver, as well as shared with the public by the Vancouver police, and video of the destruction and lootings were shown on news stations throughout the world. Some employers were able to clearly see their employees engaging in the riot, and did not care for them to be associated with their businesses in such a manner. The result was some employees were ultimately terminated from their employment (Wilson, 2012).

Caitlin Davis

Caitlin Davis was the youngest cheerleader in the history of the NFL at the age of 18, as she made her way onto the cheerleading squad of the New England Patriots. However, in November of 2008, Caitlin Davis posted a picture onto Facebook, showing her next to a passed out male with writing all over his body. The writing ranged from vulgar, to flat our racist, and when the picture went viral, the New England Patriots decided to drop her from the squad (Goehst, 2013).

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason

In a recent example from this week, the CEO of Groupon, Andrew Mason, was fired. Andrew Mason was not fired because of a social media disaster, such as the prior example in this report, but was fired due to the poor performance of the company. The reaction to the firing was what set off a social media storm. Andrew Mason decided to post his farewell letter on the site jottit.com, citing that he believed the farewell letter would leak anyways (Mason, 2013). The letter started with “After four and half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding, I was fired today”. The letter went on to thank employees, and also made references to video games (Thier, 2013). The letter took the internet by storm. Andrew Mason showed how even in the face of failure, social media can be used in a profession, yet still humorous manner. If another company was considering Andrew Mason as a CEO, they would see that he can handle adversity with class and humour.

 

What are prospective employees/current employees to do?

Prospective employees and current employees have to become engaged with social media and manage themselves as a brand to ensure they stand out from the competition. Below are ten best practices for prospective and current employees

 

1. Blog

Blogs are a great way for prospective employees to share their views on industry news and other information, as well as show a sample of their work. For example, WordPress is a free blog platform, which allows users to set up a blog with a predetermined layout. Prospective employees can set up a blog with a variety of topics. For example, if a prospective employee was looking for employment in sports marketing, they could set up a blog related to sports marketing. An employer would only need a link to the blog from a resume to see the prospective employee’s thoughts and see if they could work well within their organization.

2. Set up a Linkedin account

Linkedin is social networking site geared towards professionals. Linkedin is designed to look like an interactive resume, highlighting career achievements, past work experience, and skills and attributes. Employees can also list their hobbies and interests like any other social media site. Linkedin allows users to “connect” with one another. Prospective and current employees can use LinkedIn to find industry contracts, stay up to date on industry trends, and find job opportunities.

 

 

3. Use Facebook Properly

Prospective and current employees have two options when it comes to Facebook, the most popular social media site in the world. Either never set up account or delete their current Facebook account, or ensure they have high privacy settings and are extremely careful about what they post. Since the first option is not a viable option to many, especially in the fresh out of school job searcher category, prospective and current employees must do everything they can to make sure their Facebook pages are “clean”. Prospective and current employees must think before they post statuses and pictures, and think about how they would be viewed by employers.

4. Know what to Tweet

Similar to Facebook, many in the younger generation would view Twitter as an essential social media application. For prospective employees, Twitter can be a way to grab the attention of potential employers through insightful tweets about the industry they are interested. Again like Facebook, users must think how potential employers and their current employers may view the content of their tweets, before they tweet them.

5. Show interest in current events and social media skills with Storify

Storify is a hybrid blog/social media utility. Users can create post on a topic, and within their blog post search for reaction among social media which can quickly be quickly attached to the post. Prospective employees can show employers their social media listening savvy using Storify, as well as show their opinions on important topics within their industry.

 

6. Create a Digital Portfolio

Potential employees can enhance their blog or webpage by setting up a digital portfolio. By organizing and posting all their work in one place, a potential employee can show an employer exactly what their work looks like in a very clear and concise manner. An employer can quickly see what the prospective employee is capable of.

7. Create a Webpage

Another must for prospective employees is a webpage dedicated solely to them. The page can feature their resume, past work, a digital portfolio, as well as links to social media sites. Employers can see exactly how effective an employee is at setting up a webpage, and can easily see their work.

8. Use Monster.ca

Monster.ca is a job finding site which allows job seekers and employers to meet in one place. Job seekers can post resumes, while employers can post jobs and search resumes. Monster.ca is a source that job seekers must explore to maximize their chances of getting a job.

9. Create a Pinterest account

Pinterest allows users to create a digital bulletin board of basically them. A prospective employee can easily show all their hobbies and interests all on one site, which will make it easier for a potential employer to learn about them. Posting about industry news and trends will also differentiate a potential employee from the rest of the field.

10. Set up a YouTube channel

Prospective and current employees need to set up a YouTube channel to show their effective use of the digital media platform. Prospective employees can show off their personality through videos, as well as set up a “video resume” of themselves. Current employees can display their current work if its video related, as well as create a channel for their organization if it is appropriate.

Bibliography

Facebook. (2013). Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Facebook: http://www.facebook.com

Goehst, D. (2013, January 22). Social media: Workplace cool or ultimate firing tool? Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Technorati: http://technorati.com/business/small-business/article/social-media-workplace-cool-or-ultimate/page-2/

LinkedIn. (n.d.). LinkedIn. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com

Mason, A. (2013, Febuary 28). For Groupon employees. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Jottit: https://www.jottit.com/v5wux/

Messieh, N. (2012, a). Survey: 37% of your prospective employers are looking you up on Facebook. Retrieved from The Next Web.

Monster. (n.d.). Monster. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Monster: http://www.monster.ca

Pinterest. (2013). Pinterest. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com

Storify. (n.d.). Storify. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Storify: http://www.storify.com

Thier, D. (2013, March 1). The Video Game Reference in Ex-Groupon CEO Andrew Mason’s Farewell Letter. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2013/03/01/the-video-game-reference-in-ex-groupon-ceo-andrew-masons-farewell-letter-explained/

Twitter. (2013). Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Twitter: http://www.twitter.com

Wilson, T. (2012, June 19). Social media conduct could get you fired. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from The Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-managing/human-resources/social-media-conduct-could-get-you-fired/article4346982/

WordPress. (n.d.). Retrieved 3 2013, March, from WordPress: http://www.wordpress.com

YouTube. (2013). Youtube. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com

 

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