Your social media accounts are your CV
BY NJOKI CHEGE
You have an impressive CV. You look the part. You are brilliant and obviously good at what you do. You have what it takes, that is why you are sure you aced that interview, toppling the other candidates who were not as eloquent, experienced, and educated as you are.
But the human resource department does not call you back. You only get a brief text message thanking you for showing up for the interview, but sorry, you did not make it to the shortlist. You sit down, head reeling, wondering what you did not do right.
Did you not answer all the questions they asked? Did you not show how talented and hardworking you are? Or maybe it was your referees. Were they not strong enough? What did you miss? You ask yourself, quickly shuffling through the newspaper that had that interview announcement.
It may seem trivial, even insignificant, but your social media account could be your greatest undoing while approaching that interview room for that dream job.
Your Facebook account, Twitter timeline, Instagram photos and Snapchat could be what is standing between you and that plum job.
How? You ask. Isn’t what you post on social media your personal life? Aren’t those your personal opinions on Twitter? What does what you post have to do with your ability and eligibility for a job? What happened to freedom of expression anyway?
Nowadays, among the first steps that potential employers take while preparing to interview you is to do a thorough background check on you. This makes sense; think about, nobody wants to employ a con artist, a terrorist group sympathiser, or a person who washes their dirty laundry in public, bad-mouthing their ex or baby daddy.
For today’s organisation, image is everything, and the last thing an employer wants is an employee that will make the company look bad.
Mwikali Muthiani, the Managing Director of Millennial HR, says that this background check on social media provides some good insights on a candidate since some traits may not come out clearly during an interview process. These checks give a good feel on a candidate’s interest, such as sports, religion and human rights.
This means that even before you enter that interview room, the interviewers already have a perception about you, thanks to your social media account. This means that your digital footprint precedes your qualifications, education, eloquence and referees.
“One has to be careful what they post, especially in social media sites with fewer restrictions like Twitter. From your posts, a potential employer will be able to figure out your character without having met you – if you are the kind that constantly complains, gossips, and is abusive, chances of you getting that job are very slim, if not non-existent,” explains Mwikali.
Some have been sacked for posting revealing photos of themselves on social media, so before you post that bikini shot of you while on holiday, or your naked silhouette, think twice if you value your job or want to get one. If you are the kind that posts inflammatory statements and tribal remarks on social media, then you are treading on dangerous ground.
The same goes for posts badmouthing your boss, no matter how cryptic you think your posts are.
Also, you cannot afford to talk ill of the company you work for, because this shows a high level of disloyalty – employers are looking for someone who will proudly wear and market their brand, an employee who will readily tell others that the company they work for is the best in the industry, even if it is not.
Whatever you do after work is your own business, but you have no business posting it on social media if it is something that could deny you that job or make you lose the one you have.
Another reason why HR departments scroll through the social media accounts of potential interviewees is so that they can know if you conform to their social media policy. Most reputable organisations have strict social media policies that clearly outline the dos and don’ts of using social media.
Bear in mind that potential employers will not only search your name on Google, they will also use sophisticated software that is able to retrieve what you have deleted from your social media accounts.
“Most people think that their Facebook pages are private, that not everyone can have access them, but this is not the case – the same goes for applications such as WhatsApp,” says Philip Ogola, a digital strategist.
On the flipside, you can use your social media account to positively showcase to the world what you are capable of. A drama-free, mature account that does not reveal your personal life or does not have embarrassing photos or eye-popping comments portrays a responsible, mature young person.
You can also take advantage of social media accounts such as LinkedIn, which provides a good professional forum where you can market your skills, since this is one place where employers source for talent.
Many employers now post links to job opportunities through twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, so social media is not entirely the devil.
You can also use social media to find lots of helpful information on personal and professional development through links posted by various professionals.
What are HR managers looking for on your social media feed?
Plenty. The worst mistake you can do is to make reference to illegal drugs on your personal account. Recruiters think this is a major turn off. They are also looking for ‘sexual posts’. Seventy per cent of recruiters who participated in this study say they will hold such sexual posts against a candidate. Also, they are looking for posts that have profanity, something that does not sit well with HR managers, just as posts and pictures about guns and alcohol.