Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Seemingly Innocent Social Media Postings Can Cost A Job

We may have recently lost a placement as a result of social media postings.  That’s right, social media contributed significantly to a candidate’s not getting a job offer.

And it isn’t what you think.  It wasn’t about lampshades on the head, drunken parties or sexually oriented posts or photos.  Or about something being misinterpreted from a tweet.  It simply was about lifestyle.

The candidate had photos of himself handling guns.  Now let me be clear, this has nothing
whatsoever to do with gun control.  It wasn’t about liberal or conservative or about the Second Amendment. The client was explicit about that and made it clear that the candidate was probably not going to get an offer, but that the posting confirmed for them that he was not a fit.  It was more about the attitude he conveyed in his postings. The macho poses of this person with his guns were a turn-off to the company. It wasn’t as if he was casually shooting guns with friends and took pictures of the events.  These were photos of him on a gun range appearing angry and aggressive. They raised a question of whether this was someone who the agency or its clients would want to be with.  That is absolutely enough. 

The worst part of this was that we told the candidate and he got very angry that they would dare to look on his Facebook account.  He simply didn’t get that social media, unless made private, is public.  He, naturally, saw nothing wrong with the pictures.  They were second nature to him – he felt that this is who he is and it should not affect his being hired. I agreed with him that the photos should have nothing to do with getting a job.  But that isn’t the way it works any more.  If you make your private life public, it is the chance you take when posting something which may be considered negative or controversial by some viewers. And because it was so much second nature, he saw nothing wrong with the photos. The analogy I thought of was from my posting, “Never Bring Coffee On An Interview.” (Incidentally,  one of my most read posts.)  A lot of people disagreed with my premise, because bringing coffee with them is second nature and they think nothing of it.  But, as a recruiter, my attitude has always been that if your action(s) turn off even 5% of potential employers, why risk it, especially if it is a job you want?

It is merely an issue of how you want to be perceived.  And perception is reality.

Every person should double-check their social media pages to insure that they reflect positively on themselves.  In fact, to be sure that your social media pages accurately portray you, have an objective friend or relative look at them. You don’t want some potential employer to ding you because of an innocent political rant or over some aspect of your life which could be misinterpreted.  If in doubt, my advice is to edit them out or make your settings more private.

In June of 2012, I posted that tweets and posts can cost you a job.  There were companies then that were being hired to check out your social media pages.  I can only assume that checking these things has become even more prevalent today, two years later.

Just a word to the wise


  1. I'm curious...did you candidate pull down the gun picture afterwards (or make his FB page more private) or is he digging in his heels and keeping it up?

    1. @Anon: Did both - took them down and made is FB page more private - despite his protests.

  2. " he felt that this is who he is and it should not affect his being hired." Who you are is absolutely going to affect whether or not you fit it and/or are offered a job. He probably wouldn't have fit in and would have been miserable. I have a twice pretended to be someone I'm not in order to get a job I thought I wanted, only to be disappointed to discover that ultimatley, the real me didn't fit in. Much better to be yourself and find a good, like-minded fit -- it's out there.

    1. AdMom: Agreed. But checking your social media postings to insure that you are not offending someone is still a good idea.

  3. Paul ... Pretty sure you meant to cite the Second Amendment regarding guns, but I could be wrong.

    Next, if your candidate had posted a pic of him holding an M-16 or M-4 in a U.S. Army or U.S. Marine uniform while bravely serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, things might have gone a bit differently for him on the job opportunity.

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  5. Great post! I keep my Facebook profile private, and my profile picture and background shot are neutral, generic pictures for just that reason.

  6. So what do you think about twitter rants, for example against an airline, lost luggage, missing connections, etc.?

  7. I can only say, be careful. Some day you might want a job working on or for that same account. Remember, the internet is forever.


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