Like it or not, research tells us that employers are increasingly using social media to assess sales candidates in the interview process. So, what do you need to know about your social media profiles before you interview? How can you prevent your profiles from working against you? Read on for everything you need to know about what employers look for on your social media profiles, what they view as red flags, and how you can make online surveillance work for you in the hiring process.
According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 52 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. The survey also found that 61 percent of hiring managers in sales will use social networks to screen candidates. In fact, here at Peak, we review LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on every candidate we research.
These numbers suggest that when you are looking for a sales position, hiring managers will more than likely be reviewing your social media presence. Because nearly 80 percent of Americans are on social media, employers have almost unlimited access to the personal and professional activity when assessing potential sales candidates.”
Here we explain what employers look for on your social networks, outline common mistakes candidates make on their profiles, and show you how to use social media to your advantage in finding employment:
What Employers Look for in Social Media
It’s imperative to make sure your social media activity is free of any content that might be inappropriate for a candidate for a sales position. This includes popular sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, but can also include Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube.
CareerBuilder’s survey found that a third of employers who scan social media profiles reported they have found content that has caused them not to hire the candidate. So what do employers look at?
Half of employers revealed that they didn’t offer a candidate a position because of provocative or inappropriate photos or information posted on his or her profile. Forty-five percent said they chose not to hire someone due to evidence of drinking and/or drug use on their social networks.
Other reasons employers decided not to offer the job to a sales candidate include:
- Profile displayed poor communication skills i.e. spelling/grammar
- Spoke poorly of past employers
- Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion
- Lying about their skills or qualifications
- References to illegal drugs or alcohol
When assessing sales candidates, recruiters look for specific character traits that are common amongst top sales performers. Your social media presence can either reinforce that you have these A-Player traits, or contradict them.
For example, being successful in sales means creating friendly relationships with customers. Posts or tweets that show you to be negative or confrontational may cause hiring manager to conclude you don’t have the right makeup for sales.
On the other hand, silence on social media could be just as damaging as negative posts. Sales reps must be comfortable expanding their network. If you don’t show much interaction on social networks, hiring managers may feel you are too disconnected to be successful in sales.
Mistakes to Avoid in Your Social Profiles
There are other ways you may lose out on an attractive sales position due to your online presence.
Avoid discussing your political affiliations, since one in six recruiters view this as a potential negative. Do not rely on privacy settings to protect your online visibility – these update often and can leave your information exposed. A good rule of thumb for all your social platforms is to refrain from posting anything you wouldn’t want an employer to see. This eliminates the risk that something will appear that could cost you a job opportunity.
Make Social Media an Advantage
Despite all the rules and warnings, there is good news when it comes to employers and your social profiles. Although recruiters and hiring managers are looking for red flags, they also look at social profiles to gain an understanding of your work experience, volunteer history, mutual connections, and potential for cultural fit.
The CareerBuilder survey revealed that 29 percent of hiring managers found something positive on a profile that drove them to offer the candidate a job. Employers most often hired candidates based on their social profiles because:
- The hiring manager got a good sense of the candidate’s personality – something difficult to determine through resumes and formal interviews
- The profile conveyed a professional image
- The candidate’s background information supported professional qualifications
- Other people posted positively about the candidate
- The profile showcased the candidate as creative, well-rounded, or with exceptional communication skills
While it may be tempting to temporarily disable or delete your social media profiles while you search for employment, some experts suggest that having no social media means candidates miss out on an opportunity to showcase themselves. More than two in five employers say they are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online.
Greg Simpson, a senior vice president at Lee Hecht Harrison, agrees. He explains in a press statement that “Job seekers who are silent or invisible online may be at a disadvantage. They need to engage on social networking sites to increase their visibility and searchability with prospective employers.” Refine the content on your social profiles, but keep them active.
Despite the unease that can come with so much online surveillance, it is possible to make your social profiles an effective part of your employment strategy. Brad Schepp, co-author of How To Find A Job On LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+, explains that it’s useful to ensure “any profiles you write are free of typos, all information is consistent with your other profiles, and your photos present you in a favorable light.”
Stand Out as a Sales Candidate on Social Media
When preparing your social profiles, ensure they are free of any inappropriate content well before your interview. Take the time to ensure all photos shed you in a positive light, but avoid disabling or deleting your profiles altogether. Finally, use your social media presence as a tool to showcase your work history, communication abilities, and volunteer experience.
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