Your online presence can make or break your candidacy

In a new poll out this week, nearly 70 per cent of Canadian hiring professionals say that screening a candidate’s social media profiles is a must. While they may choose not to hire you if they find you’ve posted content they consider objectionable, you could also be ruled out of contention if they cannot find you at all.

Would you do business with a company that wasn’t online? In 2020, probably not. It turns out that many of them feel the same way about you. Roughly a quarter (24 per cent) of the hiring decision-makers surveyed said that they are not likely to consider a candidate who does not have an online presence.

Why is it considered to be a red flag for recruiters if they can’t find you at all online? It can give the impression that you have something to hide and your profiles are so objectionable that you are using a fake name and have all privacy setting cranked up to the maximum.

Alternately, if you aren’t online, you might be a luddite who does not embrace new technologies for connecting and communicating. These are essential personal branding and marketing tools for most career savvy professionals.

Another possibility if there is no trace of you on the internet is simply that you could be an anti-social loner. You have to social media connections or posts shared with a community because you have no real-world connections or community.

None of these options make for an ideal candidate for the majority of jobs.

That is why it is in your own best interest to present a friendly, connected, well-rounded image of yourself online, even if you’re not looking for work. It can be challenging to suddenly create a filled-out presence on the fly if you lose your job. A well-maintained network and robust professional profile can help with your career maintenance.

“Social media can be a great tool for connecting with others, but it’s important to remember that potential employers are looking at your accounts, too,” Bill Stoller, CEO of Express Employment, the firm behind the survey, said. “Take the time now to clean up your online presence to avoid the heartache later of losing out on the job.”

With the country continuing to reopen from the COVD-19 shutdown, Express experts say now is the ideal time for job seekers to clean up their social media accounts to avoid losing out on employment opportunities.

Since the majority of employers will be looking you up on social media sites – even if they’ve found your resume through a referral or you’ve applied directly, it’s important not to post anything you wouldn’t want a potential boss to see.

Express experts advise the following in order to clean up your social media:

1) Remove any comments or posts in which a job seeker is complaining, ranting, swearing, bullying or otherwise communicating in a harsh manner towards others. The reality is that most workplaces are challenging, demanding, dynamic and tough. The message those kinds of posts send to outside observers, however, is that you easily lose your cool and can’t diplomatically resolve conflict amongst diverse opinions.

2) Delete those racy and saucy vacation pictures. If you wouldn’t want grandma to see it, then take it down. Your coworkers, superiors, vendors, suppliers and customers can’t unsee you in that outfit, at that party, or behaving in that way. Your reputation and credibility are all that you really have in the workplace.

It’s not even necessarily that they’re judging your behaviour -it’s your judgement that can be called into question.

Case in point: I once declined to hire a marketing assistant who had an impressive resume and was personable in the interview. The trouble was that in just about every picture of him online – and he had a large social media presence – he was holding a bong. It’s not that bong itself that was the problem. Wht you do on the weekend is (mostly) your business. It was that he was so unsavvy about branding to allow his online persona to be one highlighting constant drug use – while applying for jobs.

If you can’t mange your own personal brand – how can you manage my company’s?

The key takeaway for career-minded professionals? Be present online, and importantly, be presentable. Your online presence can make or break your chances for many jobs.

You can read the full survey results and more tips from Express Employment here.

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