GUIDE: How Your Social Media Posts Impact Your Career (And What To Do About It)
Research shows that people look you up on social media before deciding to work with you. And the posts they find directly impact their decision to hire or reject you.
From job offers to college acceptance letters, promotions to business partnerships and even first dates – your posts and those you’re tagged in influence your life more than you may realize. For content creation, you have to check out Func Media, they are just the best.
By following this guide, you can make sure your social media profiles are maximizing your career opportunities – not losing you business.
What you’ll learn in this guide:
- 9 key stages of your career when you’ll be researched on social media.
- 31 risk factors that make people less likely to work with you.
- 40 positive factors that make people more likely to work with you.
- 3 tools and services you can use to maximize the effectiveness of your profiles.
PART 1: The 9 stages of your career when you’ll be researched on social media.
Whether you like it or not, you’re being searched at every stage of your career. We live in the age of smartphones and social networks, so a quick social media stalking session is now the reality with nearly anyone you meet in a professional capacity.
You’re being searched on social media at every stage of your career:
- Applying to school: 40% of college admissions officers look you up on social, quadruple the percentage that did in 2008
- Applying to entry-level jobs: 70% of employers research job candidates on social and 96% of recruiters use social media to find candidates
- Applying to C-Level jobs: 90% of executive recruiters look you up on social
- Working full time: 51% of employers use social media to research current employees. 34% found content online that caused them to reprimand or fire an employee.
- Freelancing or consulting: 81% of employers screen freelancers, independent contractors and consultants online, a percentage which has nearly doubled in the last five years from 48% in 2011.
- Running a private practice:
- 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility. (getreferralmd.com and Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group).
- 63% of prospective clients look up recommended financial advisors and base their decision on what they find.
- According to a 2014 survey from FindLaw, 38% of the adults surveyed used the internet to find an attorney, up from only 7% in 2005. This means that more people use the Internet to find a lawyer than ever before.
- Buying/renting a property:
- Borrowing money:
- Approximately 19.3% of adult Americans are credit invisible / have credit records that cannot be scored – social media is the top alternative credit rating.
- Online dating: While this isn’t a “stage of your career”, it might be a stage in your life.
If you think nobody’s looking you up on social media, think again. At every point in your career, somebody will be looking at your social media accounts.
Because of privacy loopholes and vulnerabilities, even a profile set to private can be cracked.
Think you’re safe?
Employers are doing deep searches, using automated tools, getting around privacy settings and figuring out when you change your name to avoid being found.
- Employers are using hacks and tools to get around your privacy settings. Some have complicated friending schemes, posing as someone you might know and extending a friend request so they can see your posts. Some straight up ask for your password. Others use tools that simply bypass privacy settings completely and allow them to see everything you’ve ever posted or been tagged in.
- Employers are using automated tools to quickly and easily find your digital dirt. From classics like GoodHire and Sterling Talent Solutions to new tools that specialize in social media activity like Fama and Social Intelligence, employers are learning about you online. At least 75% of recruiters and talent managers use some form of recruiting or applicant tracking software throughout the process (Capterra).
- Employers are savvy to name changes and can find you anyway. By searching for secondary identifying information, they can often find your profile even if you change your first or last name to avoid being found.
- Searches are getting deeper: “Recruiters and HR professionals typically conduct deeper searches than most consumers are aware of. Of particular concern is the depth and breadth of information that recruiters are seeking about candidates. Traditionally, recruiters have had clear restrictions on the types of information they can ask candidates. This included restrictions on asking about their families, their affiliation to religious, political or other groups, their financial situation, medical condition, and so on. Now, recruiters can easily and anonymously collect information that they would not be permitted to ask in an interview, and the survey found that recruiters are doing just that.” (Source: Cross-tab)
PART 2: The 31 risk factors that make people less likely to work with you.
People look for red flags on your social profiles, shortcuts that help them quickly decide not to work with you. We’ve made it our mission to find out exactly what those risk factors are so you can minimize them.
If you’re applying to school:
42% percent of admissions officers who check student social media accounts have discovered information that negatively affected an applicant’s prospects. (Source: Kaplan Test Prep Survey, 2017)
Admissions officers look for these red flags on your social media profiles(Source: Time, Hechinger Report, Kaplan) :
- Inappropriate behavior
- Illegal behavior
- Predictors of enrollment & success/failure on campus (using big data from social media)
- References to drugs, alcohol
- Content that’s sexual in nature:
- Hostile speech and swearing
- Weapon-related content
While it may be scary to think about, one tweet could cost you your acceptance letter. In fact, in 2017 Harvard even rescinded acceptance offers to 10 incoming undergraduate students after discovering they were publishing inappropriate posts on Facebook.
Time Magazine columnist Kaitlin Mulhere sums it up best: “Don’t put anything on social media that you wouldn’t submit as part of your college application.” Chances are, it’ll be found.
What other types of posts can put your acceptance at risk?
One admissions officer said, “We found a student’s Twitter account with some really questionable language. It wasn’t quite racist, but it showed a cluelessness that you’d expect of a privileged student who hadn’t seen much of the world. It really ran counter to the rest of her application.”
If you’re applying for a job:
According to CareerBuilder’s newest study, 54% of employers have found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate. Don’t let one ill-advised tweet ruin your chances at landing (or keeping) a job.
Reasons employers decided not to hire a candidate included [source 1 + source 2]:
- Concerns about the candidate’s lifestyle: 58%
- Inappropriate comments and text written by the candidate: 56%
- Unsuitable photos, videos, and information: 55%
- Comments criticizing previous employers, co-workers, or clients: 40%
- Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39%
- Information about them drinking or using drugs: 38%
- Membership in certain groups and networks: 35%
- Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32%
- Lied about qualifications: 27%
- Poor communication skills: 27%
- Profanity, and grammar and punctuation errors trigger negative reactions among recruiters over 60% of the time [jobvite]
- “Sometimes a candidate seems as if he might be a good fit, but red flags are raised upon further scrutiny. For example, if a candidate for proofreading jobs doesn’t take the time to proofread, or he or she fires off a blog post in anger, it can be a sign of poor judgment and execution”, so says Lydia Frank, Director of Editorial and Marketing at Payscale. [jobvite]
- Linked to criminal behavior: 26%
- Shared confidential information from previous employers: 23%
- Unprofessional screen name: 22%
- Lied about an absence: 17%
And it’s not just posts you’ve published. Employers reject candidates based on other people’s comments, posts, and tags on the candidate’s profile, including:
- Inappropriate comments or text written by friends and relatives: 43%
- Inappropriate comments or text written by colleagues or work acquaintances: 40%
Recruiters are also turned off by [jobvite]:
- Profanity: 65%
- Spelling/grammar errors: 61%
- References to guns: 51%
- Overly religious posts: 28%
Why you should clean up your profiles, not delete them entirely
It might seem easier to just delete your profiles, rather than scrub through all your posts (and friends’ posts) and make sure they portray you in a professional light.
However, having no profiles at all is also a red flag that makes employers less likely to call you in.
“57% of employers are less likely to call someone in for an interview if they can’t find a job candidate online. Of that group, 36%like to gather more information before calling in a candidate for an interview, and 25% expect candidates to have an online presence.” [CrossTab]
Rosemary Haefner, Chief Human Resources Officer at CareerBuilder echoes that idea. She claims,
“Most workers have some sort of online presence today– and more than half of employers won’t hire those without one.”
How to identify and minimize your risk factors:
BrandYourself’s technology automatically identifies red flags and makes it simple to delete them.
We worked with hiring managers, collected deep research, manually analyzed hundreds of thousands of posts and used state of the art machine learning technology to identify the posts that could put your career at risk.
To scrub yourself and check out the health of your reputation online, create a BrandYourself account and connect all your profiles. Review your posts using our social scanner, starting with high-risk posts. Better safe than sorry – remove any that might be questionable.
PART 3: The 40 positive factors that make people more likely to work with you.
People aren’t just looking for red flags. They’re also looking for positive factors to reinforce their decision to work with you. We’ve made it our mission to identify those factors so you can maximize them and accelerate your career.
If you’re applying to school:
47% of admissions officers who looked up potential applicants online say that what they found had a positive impact on students’ application efforts. (Kaplan)
These include examples of:
- Engagement on LinkedIn:
- 80% of students who included links to this profile and were looked up by a representative from the schools where they applied and were accepted (according to a small study)
- Awards and honors
- Extracurriculars (especially those not mentioned elsewhere on the application)
An admissions officer said,
“One student described on Twitter that she facilitated an LGBTQ panel for her school, which wasn’t in her application. This made us more interested in her overall and encouraged us to imagine how she would help out the community.”
If you’re applying for a job:
86% of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals say that a positive reputation online influences their hiring decisions. Nearly half say that a strong reputation online influences their decisions to a great extent.
More specifically, nearly half (44%) of employers have found content on a social networking site that caused them to hire the candidate.
According to CareerBuilder’s most recent study and last year’s study, of the hiring managers who searched candidates on social media, this is what they were looking for:
- Information that supports their qualifications for the job: 61%
- If the candidate has a professional online persona: 50%
- Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture: 43%
- Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests: 40%
- What other people are posting about the candidates: 37%
- Candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications: 38%
- Candidate had great communication skills: 37%
- Candidate had a professional image: 36%
- Creativity: 35%
And two other studies provide additional factors recruiters like to see on social media profiles:
- Mentions of volunteerism or charity donations: 65%
- Professional memberships and affiliations: 4 out of 5
“Recruiters look for professional experience, tenure, hard skills, industry-related voice and cultural fit as part of the hiring process.” [jobvite]
If you have a private practice, here’s what potential clients look for:
Amanda Mauck, Interactive Marketing Specialist at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, thinks engaging with patients via social media is a great way to empathize with those who need comfort, not just provide relevant health news. She claims,
“Our users love photos and [success] stories, [especially those] that showcase our team’s compassion and ability to go above and beyond for a family.” (Digitaltrends)
- According to 72% of consumers: Provider reputation and personal experience are the top drivers of provider choice (PWC, 2012)
- 73% of patients surveyed would welcome social media-based tools like make an appointment, or ask a question. (PWC, 2012 & Whitecoat marketing)
According to the Financial Planning Association and LinkedIn:
- Over 75% of clients say they look to their adviser to provide expertise and to help them make informed decisions.
- When asked: “To what extent do you agree or disagree that your adviser provides you with education related to the market, investments or other financial topics?”
- 69% of those who responded “completely agree” are defined as engaged clients – 5/5 satisfied with their advisor, and provided a referral within the past year.
As you can see above, what you post on your social media profiles should share valuable information to your clients (current and potential). It should also showcase the fact that you have a good reputation.
Consider the fact that:
- Over 40% of potential clients aged 18-44 say an adviser’s online profile is “important” or “critical” to their decision-making process. (Putnam)
By responding quickly to prospect needs and behaviors, high growth advisors are more likely to do the following than their low-growth counterparts (FPA):
- Offer educational events
- Leverage professional networks on LinkedIn
- Focus on thought leadership activities
- According to the practicing attorneys who responded to the ABA 2016 Legal Technology Survey Report:
- 76% of respondents individually use or maintain a presence on one or more social networks for professional purposes.
- Of these respondents:
- 73% do so for career development and networking
- 51% do so for client development
- 35% do so for education and current awareness
- Of those respondents who do personally use or maintain a presence in a social network:
- 25% report that they have had a client retain their legal services directly or via referral as a result
- Of these respondents:
- 34% of solo attorneys are most likely to report having a client retain their legal services directly or via referral as a result of their social media use
When it comes to social media connecting clients and lawyers, 45% of all traffic to law firm websites is driven by LinkedIn. [Source: Law Firm Suites]
- When potential clients seek out lawyers via social media, one survey found these key insights about the top 5 most important qualities in the lawyer:
- More than 4 out of 5 participants (81%) in the study said that the years of experience was important.
- 76% of participants said price/rates/fee structure was important.
- Nearly 2/3 of participants (66%) said that past case result history would impact their decision.
- Nearly ½ listed “client testimonial” as one of the top 5 most important factors.
- 26 out of 400 participants listed social media activity as a top 5 factor for choosing a lawyer.
- 15% listed awards and memberships
If you’re a CEO, executive or business owner:
- 77% of consumers are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO and leadership team engage on social media.
- 82% of consumers are more likely to trust a company whose CEO and leadership team engage on social media.
“[CEOs] that are truly social and engage their employees and customers in genuine conversation will be recognized as the new corporate leaders.” Leslie Gaines-Ross Chief Reputation Strategist, Weber Shandwick. (Weber Shandwick)
Additional benefits of engaging on social media as a CEO include (Weber Shandwick):
- Positive impact on company’s reputation: 78%
- Helps build relationships with news media: 75%
- Makes executives on your team feel inspired (52%), technologically advanced (46%) and proud (41%).
- You’re more likely to be seen as a good communicator than if you don’t post on social media (55% vs. 38%, respectively).
How to maximize your positive factors:
A. Use tools that make it easy and walk you through the process.
Our technology helps make sure you’re regularly posting positive content to maximize your opportunities.
Connect your accounts, and we’ll remind you when you need to log in and update them. We’ll also provide suggestions of what you can write about.
B. Learn from the top players in your industry who are doing it right.
Seth Godin: Seth Godin is an American author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker. He posts about all of the above and more. Because he’s built an impressive following (615,000 – and that’s just on Twitter), when he writes a new book he posts about it and gets thousands in pre-sales.
Arianna Huffington: As an internationally recognized media mogul, entrepreneur, columnist and speaker, Arianna Huffington (and her team) does ORM on her terms. Join Arianna’s 2.8 million followers on twitter to see how she uses social media to share her work and the work of others.
Gary Vaynerchuk: Internationally known as a serial entrepreneur, best-selling author and speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk embodies the best of personal branding. As CEO and co-founder of VaynerMedia (a full-service digital agency), he’s made a name for himself, but it’s Vaynerchuk’s commitment to his personal brand and following that makes him stand out. Join his over 1.5 million followers on Twitter to get a close-up look at ORM done right.
You can find influencers by doing a little bit of research.
If you don’t already know who they are, look on Forbes, or do an internet search to find the most successful people in your field.
Do both broad and very specific searches. Find out where they are most active online, and follow them.
From here you can join the conversation by reacting to things that they post with your own carefully crafted posts, connect with other people in your industry, and emulate these role models.
Look at their most successful posts. What can you learn from their branding strategies?
C. Create a strategy for maximizing your positive factors:
- Schedule: Those who reap the most benefit post multiple times daily. While you don’t have to do it that often, the more you post valuable/relevant/thoughtful content, the better. This also helps your profiles rank higher in Google because search engines prefer showing content that’s recently updated in results.
- Content: Be a proactive, contributing member of your field online. When it comes to posting, you have all kinds of content to choose from. Whether it’s a 60 character statistic or a 2,000 word opinion piece – create content that’s interesting to you, and will likely be interesting to others. Know your audience, know your platform, create strong content, use data to your advantage, and have a clear call to action. To learn more, check out this infographic or check out our other articles for more ideas including 8 quick ideas for LinkedIn posts.
PART 4: The 3 tools and services you can use to easily implement the advice in this guide.
Now you know what can help and hurt your career on social media. So let’s recap the tools and services that will save you time and make it as easy as possible to ensure your profiles are helping you earn the income you deserve.
A. If you want to do it yourself, our Premium DIY tool makes it easier, faster and a lot more fun.
It’ll flag risk factors so you can delete them, and recommend all the actions you can take to increase your positive factors. Just follow your steps. It takes the legwork out of manually reviewing thousands of posts.
B. If you don’t want to do it yourself, we can do it for you with our Managed Services.
What you post has the power to lose or win new opportunities, it all depends on what you choose to share.
When we work with our clients, we build a strong foundation online of the websites and social media profiles you need for your industry, we establish authority across these sites and profiles, and then keep them active with relevant content.
If you’re interested in having us do the work for you, give us a call at 646-863-8226 or schedule a consultation to discuss your options.
C. And if you don’t want any help, you can always manually do it all yourself.
For deleting risk factors, set aside an afternoon and go through all your posts – ones you’ve published and ones you’re tagged in. Keep the list of risk factors above in an open tab so you can reference it as you comb through your history. Delete any posts that might raise an eyebrow.
For maximizing positive content, do the same. Set aside an afternoon and review the positive factors above. Make sure that your profiles include what people are looking for. And check out influencers in your field to see examples of posts that are increasing their career opportunities and positioning themselves more effectively than the competition.