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Does Twitter Impact Your Job Prospects?

Does Twitter Impact Your Job Prospects?

I am often bombarded with the sentiment that my profile on any given social media platform must be absolutely pristine in case an employer takes my posts into consideration when determining whether to hire me. I’m rather cynical, so I’ve always been skeptical of this idea. Would an employer really choose to not hire me because I posted something political, or showed a bit of skin on a Saturday night? How big of an impact do our social profiles actually have on our job prospects?

Let me preface this by saying my Twitter profile is certainly not pristine, yet I landed my dream job before a diploma was even in my hand, so you can infer which side of the argument I fall on.

If you’re anything like me (and I’d argue many millennials are), you’ve probably heard this narrative surrounding your social media profiles, too. And you likely use these channels in the following ways:

Facebook

To post photos and status updates of your fun and fabulous life, primarily to keep your former high school teachers, your aunts and uncles, and your mom updated. General rule of thumb: If it’s clean enough for your mom, it’s probably clean enough for an employer.

Pinterest

To ambitiously save recipes, workouts, and craft ideas you’ll never actually see to fruition.

LinkedIn

To post and search for jobs, as well as to expand your professional network. I’ve learned LinkedIn is so much more than an online resume; it has been incredibly beneficial to scroll through my feed and catch up on industry trends, thought leadership, and news.

Want to learn more about mastering LinkedIn? Check out this post.

Instagram

To convince your followers that your life is simply beautiful, 24-7. Selfies, sunsets, and Saturday nights. The more hashtags, the better. And don’t forget about your aesthetic.

But, Twitter.

What an animal Twitter is. For my friends and me, Twitter is one of our most-used social channels. We love it because it forces us to express our thoughts in a quick and witty way. We get digestible news updates as we scroll through our feeds, which often include commentary from funny celebrities. We love it for the memes, the hashtags, and the banter. But do our employers love it, too?

According to a study cited in an article on Huffington Post:

  • 11% of employers rejected a candidate because they posted “inappropriate” comments or photos, or because they posted inappropriate content about a former employer

  • 10% were rejected for posting content about drug use, and 9% for posting content about drinking

So, it happens.

But as an adult searching for a job, it is your responsibility to maintain an appropriate personal brand. It’s common sense to refrain from posting offensive photos and badmouthing former employers online.

Another general rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t say it in an interview, don’t say it on Facebook.

Your first impression isn’t made with a handshake. It’s made with a Google search.
— Dan Schwabel, author

These statistics and pieces of advice are great, but what’s the answer to the question posed in the headline of this post?

Does Twitter impact your job prospects?

The deeply disappointing answer is: It depends.

It depends what industry you work in (or are hoping to work in), it depends what position you’re seeking, and it depends on the HR rep, interviewer, and employer you’ll meet with. Many larger corporate entities will have a more rigorous screening process, taking into account your Twitter (and Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram) profile as they consider you for the role. Other smaller entities, which may not have a formal hiring process, might not consider typing your name into Twitter to see what pops up. Furthermore, depending on the culture of the company you’re applying to, employers may not mind if your tweets are a little raunchy, sarcastic, or political. Sometimes, your Twitter profile can actually help you get a job.

If you’re nowhere to be found on Google, employers may question whether you have kept up with the latest trends or are qualified for a job that requires digital skills.
— Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review

I am a firm believer in being true to yourself, both in person and online. At the end of the day, my philosophy hovers around the idea that if an employer doesn’t like what they see on my social profiles, they probably won’t like me in person, either. And I don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t like (or at least tolerate) my personality. I post some political content, some edgy content, and some incredibly innocent content. I try my absolute hardest to never swear or post photos of myself using any sort of substances, and it has worked for me.

As millennial job seekers in 2017, we will always be haunted by our social profiles. There are only so many embarrassing song lyrics and bathroom selfies we can delete from the World Wide Web. We carry a lot of weight with us as we apply and interview for a job, but social media profiles are the new norm, and I am hopeful they won’t have as significant of an impact on our job prospects as time goes on.

Takeaways:

Use your best judgment. Think before you post, and clean up your comments as you start sending out applications. Get a feel for the culture of the company you’re interested in and try to show interest in their field by tweeting, retweeting, or responding to industry posts.

If you choose to share content publicly on social media, make sure it’s working to your advantage.
— Rosemary Haefner, VP of HR at CareerBuilder
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