How Social Media Mistakes Can Keep You from Getting Hired

An administrative professional reacts with shock after making a social media mistake.

Before you fire off that next social media post, consider this: Your next employer may be reading. And failing to consider the consequences before sending that titillating tweet could make or break your chances of getting hired. 

Admins are often a company’s first point of contact with the public, and they play an essential role in cross-departmental collaboration. So companies pay close attention to how administrative job seekers present themselves online and in person.

In addition, some administrative professionals handle social media tasks for their organizations. Employers are likely to assume candidates who make social media mistakes in their private lives will do the same on the job.

A recent OfficeTeam survey of more than 300 human resources managers underscored the importance of avoiding social media mistakes. 

  • Nearly half of hiring managers polled (45 percent) said that posting negative or inappropriate comments would reduce a job candidate’s chances of getting hired. 
  • More than a third of recruiters (35 percent) said a candidate who posted (or was tagged in) inappropriate or risqué photos would diminish his or her standing in the eyes of hiring managers. 
  • Seventeen percent said that failing to post regularly or having incomplete, dated or no social media profiles could make it harder to get hired.

social media mistakes

How do you go about avoiding the most common social media mistakes? Here are five tips:

1. Give your LinkedIn profile some love

Many hiring managers pull up the profile of a promising candidate on LinkedIn to try to get more information about the person. Checking LinkedIn has quickly become the next step after reviewing an administrator’s resume. So your profile is an essential career tool. 

Here’s how to make sure it helps you get hired:

  • Keep your headshot current and professional. Profiles with photos routinely get more attention than those without them. 
  • Regularly update all your work and volunteer experience. An outdated LinkedIn profile can harm you by making it seem like your skills and experience are out of date.
  • Grow your connections by adding at least one professional contact to your network per week. Be sure to remind the person you’re contacting on LinkedIn who you are and how you know him or her. It can be as simple as mentioning you worked on the same project a few years ago or recently attended the same conference. 
  • Be sure to support others as they build their professional profiles online by offering career insights, useful articles or kudos. You never know what conversation, ideas or job leads it might create. 

2. Keep it clean

Almost all administrative positions involve proofreading, editing and writing reports or memos for your manager. As a result, a lot of social media mistakes for admins revolve around poor writing. You don’t want your potential boss to see a personal Facebook feed full of misspellings and grammatical errors and wonder if you know how to put together a proper sentence. 

Yes, social media posts are informal by nature, and the traditional rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation don’t necessarily apply. Assume anything posted publicly will be scrutinized by a prospective employer and used to determine how you would perform on the job. It doesn’t hurt to quickly review every post that’s public to make sure there are no glaring errors. 

Keep in mind that some social platforms allow for more flexibility than others when it comes to spelling and grammar. Because LinkedIn is a professional network, hiring managers will expect to see cleaner posts. On the other hand, it’s often necessary to use abbreviations and leave out some punctuation marks to meet Twitter’s 140-character limit. 

3. Take the high road 

A good rule of thumb with social media is, “If you wouldn’t want to see it on a billboard, don’t post it.” You never know who will share, retweet or repost your comments. Nowadays, personal tweets and Facebook posts even appear in news stories and blog posts and are incorporated into TV shows. Would you cringe if any of your posts received such attention? 

Save yourself potential embarrassment (and increase your chances of getting hired) by being polite and respectful in all interactions. Be tactful when addressing controversial or sensitive subjects. And if you find yourself launching the Twitter or Facebook app when you’re in the heat of the moment, step away from your phone.

4. Show you’re the expert 

Here’s an easy tip for using social media to get hired: Share a news article relevant to the administrative field along with an observation that might not be obvious to others or your take on the topic. Doing so shows you’re engaged in the profession and are knowledgeable about the trends shaping it. 

If you’ve recently been to an industry conference, you might share a tip or two you learned at the event. Better yet: Use social media to reach out to one of the presenters and mention how much you enjoyed his or her session. It’s a great way to share useful information with your network and potentially establish a valuable connection. 

5. Think twice before friending managers or coworkers 

Perhaps the best way to avoid social media mistakes is to use privacy settings and remain updated on changes to them. Also manage your friend lists carefully to control how and with whom you share social media posts. It’s perfectly acceptable to decline a friend request from somebody you work with if you’d prefer to keep your professional and personal lives separate. 

Avoid social media mistakes is to posting judiciously and remembering that your next boss could be critiquing your posts. Be careful in your choice of words (and photos) across social networks. If you’re a sensible curator of your online image, you’ll improve your chances of getting hired.

Be sure to visit OfficeTeam’s administrative job search and career center for more tips you can use to get hired.

Tags: Social Media