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Social media content matters for job candidates

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Applying for a job? Don’t come across as self-absorbed on your Facebook page. Don’t express your strong views on potentially controversial topics either. According to researchers at Penn State, job recruiters are less likely to select candidates who appear to be too self-involved or opinionated in their social media posts. The team also found that recruiters are less likely to hire employees who post content suggestive of drug or alcohol use.

“In 2018, 70% of employers reported looking at social media sites to help them evaluate potential employees, and almost that many — 60% — eliminated candidates on the basis of negative content,” said Michael Tews, associate professor of hospitality management, citing a recent report by CareerBuilder. “It’s important for job candidates to be aware of how they portray themselves in social media.”

Tews noted that little is known about how much weight hiring managers give to potentially negative social media content. Therefore, he and his colleagues investigated the effects of three potentially negative topics — self-absorption, opinionatedness and alcohol and drug use — on hiring managers’ decision making.

The team recruited 436 hiring managers from a variety of organizations, 61% of whom were employed in the hospitality industry and the remainder in industries ranging from information technology to healthcare. The researchers gave participants a scenario to read depicting a hypothetical job candidate who answered interview questions well and exhibited enthusiasm, but also appeared to be prone to job hopping. Next, they asked the participants to review components of the candidates Facebook profiles and to rate their employment suitability.

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