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If you’ve ever hesitated to post something controversial on social media, you may have been smart to pause. A study by illustrates just how significantly social media can impact your chances for a job. The study showed that 60% of employers used social media to vet their potential hires in 2016, an increase from 52% in 2015. That number has likely risen even further since last year. Many employers are trying to find out if the new hire would be a ‘culture fit’ as well, which can be determined through social media research. The study also found that not having any accounts on social media can hurt your chances. We’ll break down the rest of the findings and how they impact your job search below. If you want to read the full study, it can be found here.

Discouraging Factors

The study found that between employers who vet their candidates with social media, 49% of them found a reason not to hire a candidate at some point. This is a significant percentage, and should illustrate the importance of being vigilant online. In the past we’ve blogged about the importance of professionalism on social media. In this blog we will break down the factors that result in candidates being turned away, based on the study.

Provocative or Inappropriate Photographs, Videos or Information

The top cause for candidates being turned down from social media has to do with inappropriate content. Posting this type of content publicly illustrates a lack of regard for how you are perceived. It also comes across as extremely unprofessional. Make sure you keep inappropriate content to yourself instead of posting it online. Despite your settings, no account is truly private.

Information About Candidate Drinking or Using Drugs

It’s okay to enjoy an adult beverage, but any signs that may indicate it affects your daily routine could raise a red flag. Even more so with drugs. Posting drinking pictures or statuses may seem innocent enough to most, but it may send the wrong message to a potential employer. It may also raise concerns that you can come to work under the influence. The only way to influence those concerns is to be smart with what you post.

Discriminatory Comments Related to Race, Religion, Gender, etc.

Having a bias against a group of people based on their race, religion, gender or beliefs for any reason will cause a hiring manager to drop your resume immediately in the trash. As an employee, you would be representing the company at all times. If your words were ever taken to represent the company, it could damage their reputation. Making discriminatory comments is an extremely common reason employees are fired, especially if they work for large companies.

Candidate Bad Mouthed Previous Company or Fellow Employee

Speaking badly of a past employer is something that usually happens during an interview. In any case, speaking negatively of a past employer will almost always reflect poorly upon you, no matter how justified it is. Try to keep the conversations between friends and family in person. Posting negative sentiments about an employer can make you look petty, and also worry them that you’ll do the same. Avoid ranting on social media about an employer, not matter how slighted you may feel.

Poor Communication Skills

Using poor grammar will always make you look bad. Bad grammar is easily excused when texting, but not so much on social media. If an employer sees that you use poor grammar online they will assume it is due to a lack of proper communication and literacy skills. No matter what, you should try to be as grammatically correct on your social media. This is especially true if you are looking for a position heavy in communication, specifically through e-mail or chat. Poor grammar is one of the first reasons a resume will get thrown away, so if it is something you struggle with, have someone else look it over before you submit it.

If you worry that you may have any of the above posted or exhibited on your social media profiles, it may be time for some cleaning. Even if your profile is private, the images or text could still find it’s way to a potential employer. Safeguard yourself against being removed from the candidate pool by being smart with what you post. Many job seekers don’t realize the impact their online presence can have on their job search. Employers are no longer in the dark about social media, and the majority will use it in their search. We hope this article helped you understand the importance of staying professional online. If you want to see the data from the study visualized, check out this great infographic from Akken Cloud.