Job searches tanked by social media fails

After some offline and online discussions about the amazingly dumb things I see job applicants do on social media, I’ve decided to compile them for posterity. As an employer, I hope that potential applicants don’t read it. These FAILS make my job so much easier in deciding whom to work with. Here are some particular stories, with the names of the guilty removed and identifying facts alerted slightly:

1) “You can always get a new job, you can never relive a party!”

John did great on his initial email interview. Over the phone I asked him about why he left his previous employer. He said he resigned due to a conflict with work hours.

Work hours? More like party hours.

I work with humans and not computers. I know humans go to parties, drink and act silly. That’s not a problem for me. Granted if I was running the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, these pictures may be a negative. With John’s Facebook wall wide open for all to see, I saw the title of the album “You can always get a job, you can never relive a party.” And then the next day he posted “Crap, got canned from Buy Mart for showing up late again. I hate morning shifts.”

Guess what? If you would have been honest, I might have considered that a youthful indiscretion. What bothered me with John is he lied to me and it was obvious to figure out the truth. What else was he lying about? Don’t know, don’t care because my delete button took care of that.

Another similar story was Mr. Sour Grapes. He said on his cover letter he left his previous employer on good terms, but his rants on Twitter indicate that he was terminated. At least I didn’t have to waste time emailing him.

Lesson: If you are dishonest in an interview, social media will rat you out.

2) “I want $60,000 minimum and a company car and you don’t need to see my resume.”

Oh really?

He may not have supplied a resume, but he did generate some interest with a line like that in his cover letter. So I checked out his Facebook profile. For someone that thinks he is so awesome, you’d think he’d set his privacy a bit better on his wall. Glad he didn’t.

He was tricky to find on Facebook. His name was common and the email he gave me was not on Facebook. However he mentioned some certifications and certifications are in an open database. That email address was on Facebook and we had a match.

Mr. Mafia Wars was playing Mafia Wars all the time. Rephrase, on his employer’s time. Apparently while onsite, he’d log into his Facebook to play some games that all posted to his wall. He was proud of his boredom at work and would tell stories about clients and not remove identifying details. Not only did this show a lack of respect to his employers time, but a profound lack of professionalism discussing client information.

I responded “I’m sorry Mr. Mafia Wars, you’ve clearly been playing online games too much if you think you can make those kind of demands while your wall indicates you spend all your employer’s time on Facebook playing games and dissing clients. “ His Facebook privacy was locked a few minutes after I sent this message.

Yes, I realize people take breaks and personal breaks can include social media. But every few minutes and the very quick response times to a tweet tell me your focus isn’t on your job but your smartphone buzzing.

Lesson: Your Facebook activity and Twitter timeline reveals your work ethic if you are posting during your employer time.

3) “It’s unfair employers judge you solely on your past.”

This post wasn’t from the applicant but one of the applicant’s friends. He posted that he was having trouble finding a job. As a potential employer, I have no problem with that. People have troubles and in this economy I’m not going to judge you.

While we do background checks on every technician (and this would have come up), it certainly made my job easier and saved me money checking his background.

Lesson: Even if you are careful about what you say, others on your Facebook wall might say things you’ll regret later. Delete them immediately (or don’t and make my job easier)

4) “Activities and Interests” include “They call it the White House for a reason”

Facebook groups are a tricky beast. People can add you to them without your consent and you may not know how to remove them. However, this group was around election time and other Activities and Interests included various racial and ethnic superiority groups that as a gentleman I won’t even list here. I couldn’t read anything about him on Facebook expect this. That however was enough to say no.

He is clearly entitled to his own opinion, but in our line of work we worth a variety of people and everyone needs to be treated with respect. His activities and interests indicated anything but. He even put on his cover letter how he likes working with a “diverse” population.

Fortunately when you look at these activities and interests you can quickly see if the person will fit into your corporate culture. If they like the “I Hate Dogs” group, they may not be a good fit for a veterinarian.

I’ll admit that based on the “profile” information I derived about an applicant, I learned that he wouldn’t be a good fit with me. Our political views were so divergent and his opinion so strong I simply couldn’t see him fitting in with me or my client base. If I asked him his opinion, that might have gotten me in trouble, but checking his Facebook profile saved me the trouble.

Lesson: Your pictures, activities and interests reveal information about you that you may not wish to share. While an employer cannot ask you certain questions, what you reveal on social media may be fair game.

5) “You share 12 mutual friends”

This is the saddest story of all. I really liked this applicant and he made it until the final interview stage. I even asked him the standard end question “We do a background check about every applicant. Is there anything I should know. He mentioned a drug possession that was diverted. Not a problem.

However as I was reviewing his stuff on Facebook, I realized that this was probably a mistake and he was generally an upstanding and respectable person. I was ready to pay the price of the background check and discuss work hours.

Then I noticed “You have 12 mutual friends” and something struck me. These people all worked for Joe’s Computer Services. Wow, we share 12 people from the same employer, yet he didn’t mention the employer on his resume. Hmmm.

So I called a few of those mutual friends and one of them spilled the beans. He was fired from working there after 3 months. He did something stupid and was fired from there. Ouch.

However, he didn’t tell me about this employer on his resume. Very dumb. You admit to drug possession but not a previous employer? Even after I say I’m going to do a background check? The report would have shown that employer and I probably would have accepted a legitimate excuse about it figuring it was an error.

Here the omission was deliberate and my casual phone conversation revealed a truth that an HR probably wouldn’t reveal. That saved me making a huge hiring mistake. While I believe this person learned from their mistake and will change, I wasn’t ready to take a chance just yet.

Lesson: Whom you follow, friend or like can reveal critical details you thought you were hiding.

Overall, the key lesson is that to make sure what you say to a potential employer matches your social media profile. As a potential employer, I’m not trying to stalk you or invade your privacy. I’m trying to judge your honesty. If your social media activity conflicts with what you tell me in person, I’m moving on to someone that is more trustworthy. You may do a great job, but if you are lying about the small things, what else are you hiding?

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