Job Search 101: How To Pass The Social Media Maturity Test

Posted on March 06, 2019

In a little over a decade, social media has dramatically changed our lives. While some people in the employment pool have grown up with it, others are less versed on the intricacies of the technology. But no matter the decade in which you were born, nor the industry in which you work, social media can have a significant impact your employability.

If you’re currently on a job hunt, make sure that you can pass the social media maturity test.

Question #1: Career Aspirations

People use social media in a lot of different ways. Whatever your career aspirations are, your social media should match.

Organizations expect their people to be a positive representation of their company. As an applicant, they are evaluating your skills, experience, and personality, but they are also considering your ability to become a representative of their brand.

In some industries and positions--such as sales and marketing--this screening is more pronounced:

In the past, one of our consultants was working to fill a Sales Representative position for a Cannabis company. One highly qualified applicant was put forward. This person had a ton of social media posts about getting high. Why would this be a problem for someone who was going to presumably be selling this product? The company felt that this person could not professionally represent the brand. Because of this individual’s social media content, they were passed over for the position that they could have been stellar at.

It’s fine to wear your heart on your sleeve and be your authentic self, but being overly candid can come at a cost of being unemployable. An alternative is to set up your privacy setting so only your trusted inner-circle can see what you post.

Question #2: Consider The Hiring Manager

Keep in mind who’s calling the shots. Many hiring managers are from a different generation than the candidates that they are evaluating. Baby Boomers think differently than Millennials, Gen Xers, or Gen Zers.

The new generation of hiring managers are aged 30-50 and most are active on social media. Whomever is evaluating you may have different expectations of what is ok and what is unacceptable on social media.

Hedge your bets on who is going to be reviewing your Facebook feed. When in doubt, keep your social media content conservative. Or even better, keep it private.

Question #3: Consistency On LinkedIn

The most obvious social media channel that people consider when starting their job search is LinkedIn. This platform is a great place to look for jobs and to network with potential employers. But before you start messaging connections for coffee dates, take a serious look at your profile.

The biggest trouble that job seekers run into with their LinkedIn profile is inconsistencies with their resume. When it’s unclear what your history is, red flags are triggered.

It’s important to remember that LinkedIn is a social media platform, not an online resume or CV. It’s not a place to dump your unabridged jobs and responsibilities. It’s a place where you should present the highlights of an accurate and cohesive employment story. It should help the person interviewing you understand that you are qualified for the position. It’s not necessary to include every piece of job experience.

What else are hiring manager looking at on your LinkedIn? Trevor Baker, MacDonald Search Group’s social media expert uses LinkedIn to screen every candidate he works with. He says, “the key things I look for is if they have updated [their profile] and if their picture is professional. Also, if they have too much detail about what they did, it could mean they’re overly eager to make a job change.” Trevor’s advice when updating your LinkedIn content before starting your job search is simple, “keep it clean, consistent, and professional.”

Question #4: Facebook Privacy

Facebook privacy, or lack thereof, has dominated headlines recently. But the open availability of personal information on this platform has long been an issue for job seekers. It’s easy to have details of your life broadcast online through your Facebook profile.

While you may be an upstanding individual, the unfortunate reality of the digital age is that people will judge you based on what you put online. You won’t have a chance to defend, clarify, or comment and you often won’t even know that you’ve been judged.

That’s a dangerous game when you’re relying on the assessment of total strangers for your employment prospects. Through Facebook, hiring managers can gain access to information about protected statuses--children, marital status, beliefs, organizational belongings--that they are legally not allow to ask about in interviews. Unfortunately, these can influence the outcome of their hiring decisions.

Keep certain content off your social media completely. Anything related to partying and drugs or any sexual content. Curate pictures that you’re tagged in regularly. A twerking video or comment about picking up someone at the bar can easily peg you as a liability.

Most importantly, understand your privacy settings. To keep you Facebook profile private, go into your settings, select privacy, and update the settings to lock your content down.

How to adjust your Facebook privacy settings
How to adjust your Facebook privacy settings

Question # 6: What Does Google Say?

Tech-savvy hiring managers use every tool in their belt to screen applicants. First, they’ll search you on LinkedIn, next on Facebook, and then they’ll turn to Google to unlock what the world wide web knows about you.

If you’re a professional, no matter your employment situation, you should be checking your Google Search results regularly. Make sure that positive results come up, like a professional picture and well-curated social media profiles. Also, be aware of any results that may raise questions or concerns and work to have them removed from their sources or be prepared to offer an explanation. You can set up a Google Alert for your name to keep on top of any changes.

Test Results: How To Pass The Social Media Maturity Test

Our consultants are often asked, “what can I do to improve my chances of getting an interview?” No matter the generation of the job-seeker, social media can improve or drastically hurt your chances of getting a job. If you’re looking at a job, you need to present yourself professionally in person and on social media.

The interests of your personal and professional life can sometimes clash on social media, but here’s a simple guideline to follow: To pass the social media maturity test, treat your social media the same way that you would treat a house you’re trying to sell. Don’t air your dirty laundry out. When you keep it clean and make the best possible impression, you’re most likely to get a solid offer.

When you can get an A+ on the Social Media Maturity Test you’re ready to find your dream job. Check out some of our job listings to get started!