If you want to land a job, booze and drug pictures aren’t the only thing you should avoid posting on social media. In fact, hiring managers are even more turned off by candidates who use their social platforms to self-boast and share strong political opinions, a new study finds.
“In 2018, 70 percent of employers reported looking at social media sites to help them evaluate potential employees, and almost that many — 60 percent — eliminated candidates on the basis of negative content,” Michael Tews, lead author of the study and associate professor of hospitality management at Penn State, said in a news release. “It’s important for job candidates to be aware of how they portray themselves in social media.”
To come to their conclusion, the researchers recruited 436 hiring managers across a variety of industries. They had each hiring manager read a scenario that described a job candidate who answered interview questions well and displayed strong enthusiasm. The only qualm was, the candidate was depicted as a bit of a job-hopper.
From there, each hiring manager was assigned to view one of 16 different Facebook profiles they were told belonged to the candidate. The Facebook profiles showed either a man or a woman, some of whom exhibited self-absorption, opinionatedness, and/or alcohol and drug use.
After looking over the profiles, the hiring managers were then asked to complete a candidate evaluation.
Self-absorption dissuaded the hiring managers the most, the researchers found, followed by opinionatedness and finally drug and alcohol use. Although, each characteristic did deter the hiring managers to some extent.
“Social networking sites are often lamented as incubators of self‐absorption, motivating people to tell others about their every deed and thought,” Tews said in the release. “It could be that hiring managers view individuals who are more self‐absorbed and focused on their own interests to be less likely to sacrifice for the benefit of other employees and the organization.”
As for why hiring managers also dislike opinionatedness, Tews said: “People who post divisive subject matter may be viewed as more argumentative and less cooperative. Additionally, their views could run counter to those of hiring managers, which may influence managers’ beliefs in candidates’ qualifications for jobs.”
Compared to self-absorption and opinionatedness, the hiring managers seemed to care less about candidates showing alcohol and drug use. Although that’s surprising, the researchers explain their pictures exhibiting substance use didn’t necessarily portray the candidate as a binge drinker or drug abuser.
“The social media content we showed hiring managers was fairly benign; there was no reference to binge drinking or actual drug use,” Tews said in the release. “One possible reason for the relatively small effect alcohol and drug use content is that hiring managers may perceive the content as relatively normal. It is also possible that people have become accustomed to references to marijuana in the United States as more states have legalized its consumption for both medicinal and recreational use.”
As a precaution, job seekers should also stay away from posting provocative photos, discriminatory comments related to race, gender and religion, bad-mouthing employers or coworkers, and exhibiting poor communication skills, among other things, a CareerBuilder survey suggests. Instead, it would benefit them to use social media to convey a professional image, show a wide range of interests and display creativity.
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Jackson Schroeder is a graduate of Ohio University with a B.A. in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School. He is originally from Savannah, Georgia. Jackson has covered a wide range of topics, including sustainability, technology, sports, culture, travel, and music. He plays bass and guitar, and enjoys playing and listening to live music in his free time.