Social media red flags job seeking

Is Your Social Media Usage a Red Flag for Employers & Recruiters?

On the hunt for a new job? Odds are that recruiters and employers are checking you out online. 91% of employers say they use social media to screen job candidates, and 69% say they’ve rejected a candidate based on what they’ve found on a social networking site.

HR & recruiting technology reviewer Software Advice recently surveyed recruiters, asking what their biggest candidate red flags on social media were, and then compared those comments to responses from 1,542 job seekers.

Here are four of the major red flags they found. Are you guilty of any of these?

1. Out-of-date profiles

One major red flag for employers and recruiters is an online profile that is inconsistent with the candidate’s resume. Only 44% of the job seekers surveyed reported that they always keep their social media profiles up-to-date, while 48% said they don’t even think about updating their information or simply don’t care.

How Often Social Media Users Update Profiles to Match Resume

How Often Social Media Users Update Profiles to Match Resume
Any time you’re in the market for a new position, check that your online job history matches your most recent resume. If you haven’t yet added your latest roles to your Linkedin profile or personal website, do so as soon as possible. Also be sure to highlight recent responsibilities, projects and accomplishments since your last online update.

2. Bad-mouthing employers

Not surprisingly, many employers are immediately put off by any negative comments a candidate has made on social media, particularly comments about previous employers. 84% of respondents claim they have never criticised an employer on social media, but a bold 3% admit to doing so frequently.

Frequency of Negative Posts About Employers

Frequency of Negative Posts About Employers
Never take to social media to bash an employer, no matter how private you believe your account to be.  There’s a good chance these comments will get back to your colleagues, and being fired over a social media post is not uncommon these days. Carefully consider everything you post online and whether it could jeopardise your employment.

3. Poor spelling and grammar

Social media posts full of typos or showing a blatant disregard for spelling and grammar can also be a major red flag to employers. “I don’t expect perfection, but I want to know that they take time and hold ‘taking pride in their work’ as a core value,” says Anthony Kirlew, founder of AKA Internet Marketing. However, 31% of those surveyed report that they don’t always check their spelling and grammar online.

How Often Social Media Users Check Spelling and Grammar

How Often Social Media Users Check Spelling and Grammar
Although no one is expecting you to create a Shakespearean masterpiece every time you send a tweet or post a Facebook comment, do be cautious about checking your posts for errors before you hit send, particularly if you’re applying for a role that requires attention to detail or writing skills. Don’t let your value as an employee be judged by your failure to do a quick proofread.

4. Lack of social media presence

In a world where over 1.3 billion people are active on Facebook, some of the employers surveyed said that they question those who are notably absent from the world of social media. However, 32% of the survey participants stated that they believe that being overlooked for a job because of a lack of social media presence is unfair.

Many people stay away from social media for privacy purposes, a general lack of interest or another innocuous reason, and, unless social media savvy is a prerequisite for a role, candidates shouldn’t have to be active online. At people2people, we don’t view being inactive on social media as a red flag, and being private online may help you more than hurt you. However, regardless of your personal opinion of social media, utilising Linkedin can be very beneficial to your job search. You can find some basics on how to create a solid Linkedin profile here.


Could your social media activity hold you back from getting a job? Here are four absurd social media fails and nine tips for cleaning up your online profile that will also help you land a role. Take the above four red flags into account, and you’ll have the best chance at being considered for a position. Good luck!

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Kirstie Jeffries

Kirstie Jeffries

Digital Marketing & Communications Specialist at people2people
Kirstie hails from Pasadena, California and graduated from UCLA with a degree in Communication Studies. She has held digital marketing roles at various companies, organisations, and marketing agencies across three continents. After three years of living in Spain, in 2013 she moved to Australia and joined people2people as the Digital Marketing & Communications Specialist. In addition to managing the people2people blog and AussieWorkingHoliday.com, Kirstie also runs a travel blog, Venga, Vale, Vamos.

4 comments

  1. Do you think more recruiters and HR departments will start looking at Klout scores as one of their metrics for hiring marketers since digital marketers should practice what they preach with their own personal brands?

    • Hi Christopher,

      I think recruiters and employers should definitely take digital marketers’ personal brands into account when hiring. I do have some doubts about Klout’s algorithm, but even just a subjective analysis would be helpful. If I were hiring a digital marketer, I would certainly have some doubts about a candidate with 30 Twitter followers who hasn’t tweeted in months!

      As for candidates in other, non-digital fields, a lack of Twitter presence shouldn’t be a red flag, but I would still encourage them to build their online personal brands.

  2. […] do to avoid such scrutiny? You could just delete your profiles altogether, though that, in itself, raises red flags in the minds of some. Personally, I’d find it odd if someone in communications or media aged 40 or below had no […]

  3. […] For some, social media can be synonymous with behaviour you wouldn’t necessarily want your potential boss to see – and if you’re not careful, a simple Google search can be your whole undoing. […]

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