Looking for a job? Social media can help, hurt | News

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Aiken Standard as part of the initiative Everybody Works on Monday, a series about employment and recruitment in Aiken County.

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse for job seekers.

On the positive side, postings about community service and academic and business achievements present a professional image. Inappropriate photos or videos or discriminatory remarks posted online, however, do not.

Studies have shown that 70 percent of employers use social media to screen job candidates and more than 50 percent found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate, said Corey Feraldi, director of the Office of Career Services at USC Aiken.

“That’s a pretty high percentage,” he said. “In general, college students and other job candidates probably think that employers aren’t really looking at sites like Facebook, but the bottom line is they are. People should definitely pay attention to what they’re posting on social media sites.”

To find out what positive or negative information about them is on the Web, job seekers should start by Googling themselves to “see what comes up,” Feraldi said.

“When I do that occasionally, I’ll find things from 15 years ago – a comment I made in a newspaper article or a picture from a conference I attended,” he said. “Those postings don’t go away. They’re there. You always want the information that comes up to reflect positively on you.”

Feraldi said postings on social media sites, such as Facebook, can reflect negatively on people looking for jobs.

“Pictures of drinking or drug use are always negative and discriminatory remarks, too. That might be anything – race, gender, religion,” he said. “Certainly in the political climate that we have, people can be very outspoken on social media, and that can come across as unprofessional to an employer.”

Job seekers also should be careful not to “bad mouth a previous employer,” Feraldi said.

“If a new employer sees that, it is not a positive reflection on them,” he said.

The words job candidates use on social media matter, but potential employers also look at how they use them, Feraldi said.

“If an employer sees that a candidate’s communication skills on social media are very poor, that might reflect negatively, too,” he said.

Facebook users should be mindful of their privacy settings on social media, Feraldi said.

“You’d be surprised that a lot of people don’t have any kind of privacy settings,” he said. “If they want their Facebook page to be more social, they should think about making Facebook private just for their friends and connections. Sometimes, they don’t think about that; and they might have something posted that isn’t appropriate, and anyone can pull it up.”

But social media isn’t always negative and can be a positive asset and advantage for job candidates, Feraldi said.

“If an potential employer goes on LinkedIn or Facebook and sees that a candidate has a professional image there, and a positive, good personalty shows on their social media and maybe they have a wide range of things they’re interested or involved in, that can be very positive,” he said. “Employers are looking to get an idea on how professional candidates are and how they might fit in their organization, their culture. That positive image can go a long way for employers who are looking for the candidate with the best fit.”

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