5 Things to Post on Facebook If You Don’t Want a Job

July 23, 2012 7:16 pm Published by Steven Rothberg

This is the first post in our Social Recruiting Guest blogger series, during which we’ll be bringing you different perspectives from many different players in the social recruiting world. Look out for posts over the next several weeks to stay in the loop!

There must be tens or even hundreds of thousands of articles, blogs, and videos telling job seekers what they should or should not post to their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts. Rarely, however, have I seen an article that provides any type of statistical analysis to support the author’s opinion that certain types of content are likely to harm the candidate’s chances of being hired.

In June 2012, JobVite surveyed over 1,000 human resources and recruitment professionals in the U.S. in an effort to provide some empirical evidence to support these opinions. Fewer than two percent of respondents were JobVite clients, so this wasn’t one of those idiotic “we surveyed our clients and found that our service is better liked than those of our competitors” polls.

The survey found that nearly 75 percent of hiring managers and recruiters check the social profiles of candidates. Indeed, 48 percent said they always do so, even if the candidate does not provide permission. So what do these hiring managers and recruiters like and dislike when checking the social profiles of the candidates?

Let’s start with what they liked or felt neutral about:

  1. Memberships to professional organizations (80 percent positive);
  2. Volunteering or donating to non-profits (66 percent positive);
  3. Most were neutral in their reactions to political opinions (62 percent neutral).
  4. A slight majority were neutral about religious posts (53 percent neutral).

So what didn’t they like?

  1. References to using illegal drugs (78 percent negative);
  2. Posts of a sexual nature (67 percent negative);
  3. Profanity in posts and tweets (61 percent negative);
  4. Posts about alcohol consumption (47 percent). I guess this is why I’m unemployable by any organization other than CollegeRecruiter.com.
  5. Grammar or spelling mistakes on social profiles saw a 54 percent negative reaction, worse than posts about drinking.

So, should all job seekers follow the advice of some so-called social media experts by immediately deleting all content from their social media accounts and otherwise cleaning up all of their digital dirt? Hardly. The survey revealed that some types of content on social media sites can be beneficial, and that even controversial content isn’t viewed negatively by many hiring managers and recruiters. Different strokes for different folks.

I’m happy that the survey made clear that candidates can and should continue to post content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites, and also that content which some would consider unquestionably harmful isn’t actually always going to be harmful.. For certain candidates applying to certain jobs, a photo of that candidate drinking a beer may disqualify him or her from consideration, but other employers may react positively—they may infer, for example, that the candidate is social and friendly and therefore a good fit for a particular work environment.

The moral of the story: take into consideration legitimate statistics like the ones above about what employers find positive and negative on social profiles, but don’t subsequently panic and delete everything. Use your best judgment about what an employer might reasonably find questionable, and edit accordingly.

This post was written by Steven Rothberg