File picture: Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters

CAPE TOWN - Social media posts might be appealing to most of you and your friends but could also be a step to losing a job.

According to a recruiting platform Jobvite annual Social Recruiting Survey, 93% of hiring managers will review a candidate's social profile before making a hiring decision and that review matters. A whopping 55% have reconsidered a candidate based on what they find, with most 61% of those double-takes being negative.

Respondents to the survey say "making any kind of references to illegal drugs is the worst thing that a social media user can do. The study found that 83% of recruiters say doing so is a strong turn-off.

One of the most "obviously thing you should not do is list sexual content, which 70% of recruiters say will count against you. Two-thirds told Jobvite that posts including profanity reflected poorly, over half didn't like posts on guns, and 44% saw posts about alcohol as concerning.

According to Mashable.com Ashley Payne, a teacher in Barrow County, Georgia, was asked to resign from her job at Apalachee High School in 2009 because of photographs and status updates she posted to Facebook. Payne's updates showed her drinking alcohol and one update used an expletive. Payne was on vacation in Europe and some of her photographs included her visits to the Guinness Brewery and a local pub in Dublin.

Payne's Facebook page was private, however, she had friended some other teachers in her school. When the principal found out about the photos, she was told to render her resignation or face suspension.

According to the study, 66% of hiring managers said they would hold poor spelling and grammar against candidates.

Slightly over 1 in 6 recruiters said that not considering keeping your political affiliation to yourself was another potential negative.

In March 2009, 22-year old Connor Riley was offered a job at Cisco. Her first instinct to tweet about her new opportunity was pretty common for most people of her generation. Unfortunately, Riley's tweet mentioned that taking a "fatty paycheck" would come at the expense of "hating the work." A Cisco employee responded to her tweet, offering to pass her sentiments along to the hiring manager. Riley lost the job before it was even started, reports Mashable.com

Entrepreneur.com reported that  Justine Sacco, once a senior director of communications at media company IAC, which owns Tinder and The Daily Beast, was boarding a flight to South Africa when she tweeted the following: 

“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

While she was in the air, her tweet went viral. By the time she landed, she was the number-one worldwide trend on Twitter. She was sacked soon afterwards.

However, the survey also explains some of the things which can be of a positive impression to potential employers.

"While you're revising your LinkedIn profile, polish your halo a little," explains Jobvite's survey. "Information about volunteering or donations to charity left 65% of recruiters walking away with a positive impression."

The survey also showed that respondents said they try to determine things like professional experience, mutual connections, examples of previous work, and cultural fit.

The study also lends some insight into how recruiters use different social networks. LinkedIn is clearly the king of the hill at 79% of respondents say they have hired through the network, versus 26% through Facebook and 14% through Twitter.

Nearly all hiring managers will use LinkedIn for every step of the recruitment process, including searching for candidates, getting in contact, and vetting them pre-interview.

In contrast, Facebook is primarily used for showcasing the employer's brand and getting employees to refer their friends. About two-thirds of recruiters also use the network to vet candidates before or after an interview. Twitter appears to be the platform least used by hiring managers and is used similarly to Facebook, but with less of an emphasis on candidate vetting.

No matter what the platform, however, the takeaway for workers is clear: "Best be vigilant not to post anything you wouldn't mind an employer or potential employer seeing," explains Jobvite's survey.


"Make sure to check your Facebook privacy settings, but don't depend on them because they're known to change frequently."

 BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE