“The world is a small place,” they always say. This is true especially with many of us sharing our victories, disappointments, and the milestones of our lives on Facebook. We sometimes share too much without realizing that it’s for the whole world to see.
As a recurring event, the shared information continues to backfire if we are job hunting (without us realizing the cause).
“Resumes can be skipped over for any reason these days,” says Bill Fish, founder of the online reputation management resource ReputationManagement.com.
“Anyone can be eliminated at any time,” agrees Devay Campbell, CEO and founder of Career 2 Cents, a career coaching firm. “Most of the time, they never find out why.”
When we are eliminated after what seemed like a successful interview, we feel a surge of hate and discrimination against us.
“Even when this discrimination is unlawful, it’s almost impossible to prove,” says Joni Holderman, owner of the resume writing firm, Thrive! Resumes. She adds that it can happen at any stage of the recruiting process. “A deep dive into a candidate’s online reputation is a standard part of the background check.”
Does your social profile scare prospective employers away or add to your sparkle?
You may read on to find out if you have already made such unpardonable mistakes on the social media, not only Facebook.
a. Having Or Expressing Strong Political Views
These days it is normal for people to say what they feel about political issues, that’s freedom of speech any ways, but if such comments will pose an obstacle to your job hunting, what use is it? Job seekers are advised to refrain from taking stands on divisive topics like political campaigns, abortion and immigration. Be wise.
If you are posting comments on issues that border around your profession, that may be good if you do it wisely. For instance, Holderman recalls a client with an MBA who had written a number of Facebook posts and online editorials in support of certain taxes on corporations in specific industries.
“He was missing many opportunities because the prospective employers did not want to be perceived as publicly supporting his political views – or any set of political views,” says Holderman.
b. Hard Drugs
No employer would wish to take away your rights to unwind at your spare time. However, what you do will matter only when you go public with it. During interviews, it’s OK to accept being a social drinker. After all, companies host events and employees are allowed to drink wines or beers.
Socializing with a few drinks isn’t bad, what is very bad is using hard drugs. You dare not post on social media pictures of yourself doing some stuffs with cocaine, marijuana of anything forbidden by the laws.
Worse still, a good number of HR professionals and career coaches advise against any references to drug use, understandably. “Frankly, it’s too much of a headache to deal with if someone is open enough to talk about their drug use – even marijuana – on social media,” says Fish.
c. Financial Difficulties
Those fancy steakhouse photos might actually improve your chances of getting a call from a recruiter. “A lot of jobs check credit and believe people who are financially sound are the best candidates,” says Campbell.
The flip side, of course, is to keep your money worries off Facebook. You wouldn’t want employers thinking you can’t be trusted with funds. A manager would not want to hire a wretched job seeker especially if it shows on your clothes, speech or behavior.
“I recently saw a person discussing car trouble and asking for a ride to work,” says Campbell. If she were looking for a job, it might make her prospective employer wonder.
This goes double if you handle cash, accounts, or expensive tools, or if you have access to high profile clients or trade secrets.
“Your financial history will be in question,” warns Campbell.
d. Hereditary Chronic Health Problems
If you have a chronic illness or are caring for someone who does, you might look to Facebook as a support network or use the platform to raise awareness for the disease. But think twice if you’re also looking for a job. “I once had a client who was very vocal on Facebook about the fact that he was a single parent with four daughters under the age of 10, all with Type 1 diabetes,” says Holderman.
Want proof it was holding him back? “We almost instantly saw a jump in interest from recruiters and an increase in job interviews after he removed the information.”
Although this type of discrimination is illegal, employers have sound financial reasons to bypass candidates who reveal medical issues. “Employees of a company are in a risk pool together, as far as health insurance costs are concerned. One employee who needs chemotherapy or a heart transplant can drive up next year’s premiums for the whole company, impacting the bottom line,” explains Holderman. “HR execs see it as controlling benefit costs, an essential function of their job.”
Likewise, if your Facebook profile reveals that you are consumed with life as a caregiver, HR directors may wonder how many days off you’ll need. “They may even feel guilty about taking you away from that situation,” says Campbell, reminding us that HR professionals are only human and, if they have doubts about a candidate’s ability or availability, they will err in favor of the company.
e. Pictures That Say You’re Are Something Negative
With the rise of cheap smart phones and awesome picture-enhancing apps, it’s easier to take poses with fingers that say things like ‘I Love You, One Love or Victory.’ A cultist who turns to be an employer, in most cases, would stay away from employing job seekers who are of like minds.
But make sure your profile doesn’t put the wrong questions in your interviewer’s mind, which is exactly what happened to one of Holderman’s former clients. “I worked with a CEO client in the very conservative insurance sector. As a hobby, he had invented and patented a unique aiming device for snowboarding. Unfortunately, his Facebook profile photo showed him wearing this headgear, which looked like a very elaborate, colorful tin foil hat with antenna.”
Noting that the photo raised doubts about his mental health, Holderman says, “I was never able to convince him to change the photo and I believe he’s still looking for a job.”
What You Can Do
The most important thing you can do is first, knowing that Facebook is public. Blocking contacts who are not friends from your posts may seem like an “easy way out” but it’s still not safe.
In fact, it can’t and will not stop employers from seeing your bizarre hobbies or getting to know your private side. “It’s very common in today’s job market for the candidate to be asked to ‘friend’ the interviewer on Facebook,” says Holderman. This can happen right there during the interview.
Of course, you have the option to refuse to accept a prospective employer’s friend request — and the employer has an option not to hire you, as Holderman points out.