Social media flaws can prevent employment

Ready to Launch logoGraphic by Holly Nall

In a generation that grew up in the rise of the Internet and boom of social media, it’s amazing to me how little my peers use it to its fullest potential.

Everyone has their own concept of themselves through social media that they reveal through posts. We’ve all got friends with clean and nice profiles, and ones who put every bong and drug-induced endeavor online.

The latter drive me crazy.

As college students and professionals at any age, we should be seeking to create a strong professional presence online. Social media strategies aren’t just for businesses — they’re for individuals too — at least the ones who want jobs.

Social media isn’t just a fun place to post your MySpace quizzes anymore. It’s a skill and a new resource for hiring managers to see if you’re really their cup of tea.

According to Forbes, CareerBuilder.com did a survey of 2,303 hiring managers and found that 37 percent of them scan potential candidates’ social media profiles to evaluate character and personality, and sometimes even base their hiring decision on what they find. That means about two out of every five companies you’re applying to are definitely stalking you.

CareerBuilder.com also asked why companies check social media sites. Guess why? “65% said they do it to see if the job seeker presents himself or herself professionally.”

“Congratulations Graduate! Eleven Reasons Why I Will Never Hire You” by Mark O’Toole describes eleven detailed things recent graduates are horrible at. My favorite observation? Number seven: “You Don’t Get Social Media (But Think You Do).” It’s targeted at graduates who claim social media expertise, but only use Facebook. I’m looking at you, whom wrote that as skill on the LinkedIn profile you made last week.

O’Toole specifically cites minimal and inappropriate tweets, incorrect spelling of the blog site Tumblr and blank Pinterest pages.

Let’s look at Pinterest for a moment. It’s a site focused around creating individual “boards” that are filled with “pins,” or pictures/graphics that are linked to websites, blogs or recipes. “Students can use Pinterest to showcase their online portfolios (such as published writing samples),” said Malorie Lucich, communications manager at Pinterest and ’06  SF State alum.

I won’t deny it: I’m obsessed with Pinterest, and have met people who feel the same way. But this is also a site that I hear much less about than Instagram or Vine. While women are five times more likely to use it than men according to Hypebot.com, I’ve got more than enough girl friends (and guy friends, for that matter) that have made profiles and barely posted anything.

Why is that? Not sure. But after reading O’Toole’s article, either use it or delete it.

“People use Pinterest to create wishlists, plan projects, get inspired about places to visit, and more,” said Lucich. “(Students can) save articles around a topic they’re interested in or books they want to read, collect webinars or talks relevant to their area of study, discover tips for their job search, and more.”

Lucich suggests following influencers on Pinterest, creating group boards for projects, collecting ideas on a board for job interviews, following news sources and creating a “pin now, read later” board.

This goes beyond Pinterest. Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter especially should be updated and maintained. Even though none of us use Google+, I bet you have a Gmail account, which means you have another blank profile that comes up first on a Google search of your name. And like O’Toole says, use it or delete it.

So here’s to hoping you clean up your Twitter feed and Google+, before someone with a prettier profile steals the job.

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