It's one of the top job-hunting warnings, right behind spell-checking a resume: Be careful about what you post on social media.
Most rightly counsel that blatant missteps such as crude language, dirty jokes or drunken selfless will get your resume tossed immediately. However, Workplace Psychology consultant and trainer Steve Nguyen brings up a terrific point, one many may overlook: personal sharing on social media will tip your hand before the hiring manager even meets you.
“The reality is that we willingly post a great amount of information about who we are,” he tells Fast Company's Lydia Dishman. “We put ourselves on full display and share many things that, taken together, reveal our beliefs, tastes and even personalities."
The upshot: You could tweet perfectly, sharing only helpful, business-related information and links on social media, yet still offend a potential employer.
For example, say you're a Red Sox fan and your Twitter avatar is the team's logo. A hiring manager likes what he sees on your resume and does a quick sweep of your social media accounts (remember, studies show anywhere from one-third to nearly three-quarters will do this). He gets to Twitter and sees two red socks as your avatar. He's a diehard Yankees fan. Will this affect your chances for an interview? What if the hiring manager is on the fence about bringing you in for an interview? That innocent 48x48 jpeg certainly could work against you, especially if it moves the manager toward confirmation bias, Nguyen says.
“It’s our tendency to prefer information that confirms our beliefs and expectations about people or things, while ignoring information that contradicts them,” he explains.
The bottom line: Whatever you share online is information you give away before a prospective employer even gets a chance to meet you - information they never may know otherwise.
Using the above example, how likely would it be that the Red Sox come up in conversation during a job interview? If you happened to be interviewing in the manager's office and saw an interlocked N and Y, you certainly wouldn't mention the Red Sox.
However, from the glass-half-full perspective, social media sharing could work in your favor. You and a hiring manager could share the same hobbies, likes or dislikes, which could improve your chances for landing an interview or the job - remember, confirmation bias.
Click below to read Dishman's article, which shares more information and points to ponder regarding how social media and job hunting/hiring intersect.