Savvy professionals know how to use social media to their advantage. They understand how having the right kind of presence on LinkedIn or Twitter can help them get a job, build a personal brand, connect with important people in their field, and stay up-to-date on current trends.
Far too many people, however, haven’t quite figured out how to align their social media activities with their professional goals. They’re the ones with the incomplete LinkedIn profile, an Instragram feed consisting entirely of selfies, or a string of negative updates on their public Facebook. Those social media missteps could end up hurting their career, according to a recent survey of 300 human resource managers by staffing firm OfficeTeam.
Clueless and annoying social media behavior can easily take job seekers out of the running for a job, the survey found. Inappropriate or negative comments were the biggest red flag, following by risqué photos and incomplete or dated profiles.
“People often believe posting on social media is just harmless fun, but in reality, employers frequently look online to learn about prospective hires,” Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam, said in a statement. “Professionals should think beyond eliminating unflattering content from their digital accounts to how they can wow hiring managers by showcasing career accomplishments and industry involvement.”
How can you know if your social media personality is turning off employers? Check out this list of the five worst types of people to be social media, according to OfficeTeam.
1. The cranky critic
Fed up with annoying coworkers or your boss? Outraged about politics? Had it up to here with your commute? Venting on social media feels good in the moment, but if all your posts are fueled by a sense of righteous anger, you come off looking like a crank, which won’t do wonders for your professional reputation.
Forty-five percent of HR professionals surveyed by Robert Half said negative or inappropriate comments were the biggest mistake they say potential employees make on social media. In other words, don’t be like the Texas woman whose Facebook posts lost her job at a day care center before it even started. Her mistake? Writing, “I absolutely hate working at day cares … I just really hate being around a lot of kids.”
2. The superfluous selfie poster
Masters of the selfie might want to think about putting down their phone. Too many photos of your handsome face make you look like you have an out-of-control ego (and if they’re inappropriate, they could end up costing you your job). An abundance of selfies suggests the poster is insecure or lacks confidence, which won’t make you look like a rock-star employee in the eyes of your boss or a potential employer.
“Preoccupation with selfies can be a visible indicator of a young person with a lack of confidence or sense of self that might make him or her a victim of other problems as well,” Pamela B. Rutledge, Ph.D., MBA, wrote in an article for Psychology Today.
3. The TMI transgressor
How much is too much to reveal about your personal life online? The line isn’t always obvious (one person’s friendly update is another’s TMI), but one thing is clear: If a post could cause your boss or future employer to question your professionalism, don’t share it. If you’re worried about what your coworkers, boss, or future employers might think of your activities, make your profiles private (though there are no guarantees the information will stay hidden). Better yet, don’t broadcast your less-than-squeaky-clean activities at all.
“Don’t talk about how drunk or high you got last weekend. Don’t talk about how you faked being sick so you could take an extended weekend with your friends,” human resources consultant Brenda Vander Meulen told BankRate.
4. The connection counter
Don’t be the guy who has 500+ connections on LinkedIn. Focusing on quantity rather than quality when building your professional network can actually hurt you. If many of your connections are “weak ties” it might be easier to find job postings, but landing an interview and a job offer will be harder, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, and Carnegie Mellon University Found.
“[H]aving a large network made up of predominantly weak ties can backfire when viewed by a recruiter,” Rajiv Garg, a professor of information, risk, and operation management at the University of Texas, wrote. “If your shared connection is strong and can recommend you, you’ll get an interview or an offer. If that person is a weak tie and says, ‘Sorry, I don’t know her well. We’re just connected on LinkedIn,’ then your entire network is suspect, and you’ve probably just lost that interview.”
5. The nonchalant networker
Being a social media slacker is a big no-no, according to HR experts. Seventeen percent of those surveyed by OfficeTeam said infrequent posting, an incomplete or out-of-date profile, or no profile at all were the biggest social media flubs they saw among job seekers. These lackadaisical networkers just aren’t doing a good job of selling themselves on social media, even though more than half of hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder in 2015 said they checked out sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to research prospective employees.
“In a competitive job market, recruiters are looking for all the information they can find that might help them make decisions,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said. “Rather than go off the grid, job seekers should make their professional persona visible online, and ensure any information that could dissuade prospective employers is made private or removed.”