Five Big Social Media Red Flags to Avoid From Potential Hires

Does your company use social media screening as part of the recruiting process? If not, consider it.

Social media can be a useful tool for screening, as detailed in a June TLNT article about candidates rejected based on their public profiles. Only 20 percent of employers examine candidates’ social media profiles for screening, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Of the recruiters that screen via social media, 69 percent rejected applicants based on the content on those profiles.

Social media screening is one way to make the background check process more efficient and help you find right candidates for the job. Here are some social media red flags that should put you off of a candidate. If you’re a job seeker, make sure your social media profiles help (and don’t hurt) your chances.

Red flags should go up if the candidate:

1. Posts inappropriate photos and information

Your applicants have left their high school and college days behind, and they should leave the pictures from those times behind as well. No more posting seductive pictures or statuses on an essentially public forum.

Professionals should know better. However, in the SHRM survey, employers said that 50 percent of candidates had salacious photos or information on their profiles.

Another practice that should end after college: posting photos or statuses while consuming alcohol or doing drugs. Nearly half (48 percent) of applicants still have pictures or information depicting under the influence behavior.

Worthwhile applicants will leave the red cups in the past.

2. Bad-mouths a former employer

Social media sites, because of their broad reach, typically provide platforms for both advocacy and negative press. But, if a job candidate used one of these platforms to vent about a former employee (as do 33 percent of potential candidates, according to SHRM), that should make you think twice.

Why? Because it shows that the candidate is not a team player, and there’s nothing to stop the same person from becoming disenchanted with your company and generating negative press.

If potential employees don’t mind publicly ranting about their current or former employer, they might not think twice about sharing confidential information from a new employer, either. To protect the privacy of your business and employees, it’s best to avoid these applicants.

Job seekers should think twice about complaining or posting confidential information, no matter how private you believe your profile to be.

3. Makes communication mistakes

About 30 percent of candidates make their social media profiles undesirable because of spelling, grammar, or other communication errors.

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A slightly unprofessional social media profile isn’t the end of the world, but it does signal a disparity between private and public professionalism that may spill over into the candidate’s work.

4. Posts derogatory comments

One in five (20 percent) of candidates used social media to post derogatory comments about a certain group, whether about race, gender, religion or otherwise, and that represents a significant risk.

Hiring opinionated or bigoted employees runs the risk of offending others, tarnishing your brand, and poisoning the workplace environment.

In addition, watch out for those whose posts feature aggressive language or threats of violence against others. It may just be talk, but these candidates pose physical danger to your employees in addition to the threat of verbal abuse.

5. Lies about qualifications

About a quarter (24 percent) of potential employees lie about their qualifications on social media profiles or online resumes. To avoid hiring an underqualified candidate, check to see whether resumes and social media profiles match up.

Note to job seekers: Although this may seem like a way to get ahead, lying about your qualifications hurts you as well.

Social media screening shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all for recruiting, but it should play a role, at least in streamlining the recruiting process. A candidate who doesn’t put effort into his or her social media profile might not be putting their best foot forward.

You need to have a strict social media policy in place for your recruiting team, and then stick to it. That way, you compare apples to apples. Scan your candidates for these red flags, and you can cut out potential hiring failures before they happen.

Do you use social media as a way to screen potential candidates? What red flags do you avoid?

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