By Jeff Lipschultz
Recently I was interviewed by Self magazine about candidates using social media to complain about things. Many of us do this once in a while. We pan a bad movie. We share a bad experience at a new restaurant. We whine about our bosses…
Well, some of us whine about our bosses -- and some of us may not find a new job so easily.
The Self reporter wanted to know if hiring managers or recruiters look at tweets on Twitter to see what a candidate may be sharing with the world. The simplest answer to this question is:
Hiring managers will use any publicly available information to learn more about you.
They may never share that they learned something about you they did not like. If they have two finalists for a position, and one has a “clean social media image,” and the other complains about their current workplace….well, I think you know how this story ends.
This is not to say that you must forgo having a Social Media presence if you’re a job seeker. Your world practically expects you to post pictures from your trips, highlights from your kid’s soccer game, or even an occasional observation about things that aren’t quite right.
But you must think of your Social Media Personality as an extension of your real personality.
Do your friends say you’re a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” kind of person? Regardless of the answer, they derive their opinion from years of interacting with you.
In Social Media, there is a history, too. You can’t assume that your rants are contained to only your Social Media buddies, tweeps, friends, connections, followers. Also, don’t look at history as a single event (one complaint does not define you as a complainer); think of history as a string of events or comments that build into a perception or tone you project.
The good news is you can leverage Social Media to build your image as much as to wreck it. You can blog about positive things or suggestions on how to improve tough situations. You can share interesting articles you’ve read about your industry. You can show how extraverted or friendly you are.
Many candidates say they are a “people person.” If so, one would expect them to have pictures from gatherings, conferences, and other relevant and appropriate events. Of course, you need to use judgment in all cases to project the right image. Being a "people person" is not the same as partying all the time or drinking too much..
Consider the visibility your Social Media participation provides to be an opportunity to publish "marketing collateral" on YOU as the product.
Using Social Media, discover new and creative ways to promote yourself.
It’s not just what you say on Social Media—it’s who you know. Many of my clients have been known to check candidates’ LinkedIn profile to see how they’re connected. If you have a common friend, it’s very possible a hiring manager will check in with that friend to see what they know about you. Again, you may never find out this happened—especially if it’s a friend of a friend.
Non-requested reference checking happens, and there’s no stopping it.
As society becomes more and more transparent (meaning our lives are broadcasted now more than ever), we must remain vigilant to guarding our Social Media image. In some ways, an appropriate rule of thumb is a simple update to the advice regarding decisions and actions we take: “Would your mother approve?” Now, we must also ask, “Would my next boss approve?”
Job-Hunt's Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. He is a unique recruiter with Lean Engineering experience and a Six Sigma Blackbelt. Learn more about him through his company site alistsolutions.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter (@JLipschultz) and on GooglePlus.