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Executive communications expert Dianna Booher shares tips on communication through social media.

Ready for another “Top 10” list?  Er, “Top 4” list this time. This one published in Inc magazine’s July/August edition based on a CareerBuilder/Harris Interactive poll.   This survey reports that 34 percent of employers have rejected a job applicant because of their activity on social media. 

The poll cites these top four reasons specifically.  Job seekers

  1. Posted inappropriate photos or information
  2. Showed evidence of drinking or drug use
  3. Communicated poorly
  4. Badmouthed their previous employer

From my perspective, ALL these reasons, except the second, have to do with poor communication.  Having the judgment to know what is and is not appropriate to post speaks volumes about someone’s ability to communicate—to sort the significant from the trivial, to tailor a message to the audience, to select the right medium for the message.

Likewise, reason number four (badmouthing a previous employer or boss) also communicates lack of judgment.  If someone does not have the good sense to control the tongue in open forums, what can a future employer expect regarding confidentiality in sensitive client issues or supplier fallouts?

Reason number three is straightforward.  Run-on sentences, punctuation errors, misspellings, danglers—these all represent a lack of knowledge or inattention to detail. Neither serves a candidate’s purpose well.

In addition to the four reasons mentioned above, here are other things that communicate strong messages from social media activity:

  • Attitude:  Are the posts mostly positive and upbeat or sarcastic and whiny?
  • Tone:  Are the posts mostly helpful or punitive?  Are most of the comments insightful, affirming, or confrontational?
  • Engagement:  Do the posts show interactivity among a wide network of friends and colleagues? Or, is all the activity one-directional?
  • Focus:  Do the posts ever mention others, call other people by name, and offer kudos to colleagues?  Or do all comments focus on the writer?

Are you surprised that one-third of employers have rejected job candidates after checking their social media footprints?  What communication habits do YOU notice most frequently from someone’s social media posts?

 Dianna Booher, an expert in executive communications, is the author of 46 books.  Her work has been translated into 23 languages.  Her latest books include Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader  and  Communicate with Confidence, Revised and Expanded Edition.  As CEO of Booher Consultants and as a high-caliber keynote speaker, Dianna and her staff travel worldwide to deliver focused speeches and training to address specific communication challenges and increase effectiveness in writing skills, presentation skills, interpersonal communication, and organizational communication.  1-800-342-6621

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25 thoughts on “Communication Skills: Job Seekers Turned Down Because of Social Media Activity”

  1. Our social media accounts reflect part of ourselves. There's no need to avoid being personal, we just have to think before we post! Another great post by Dianna Booher, MA, Executive Communication Author & Speaker.

  2. Once people realize that every single word we put out into the ethers becomes part of our permanent fingerprint… they'll think twice before they hit the Submit button each time. Any concept of privacy is non-existent! Another valuable post by Dianna Booher.

    1. Right, Carly. Reading social media posts resembles reading someone’s thumb prints. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point.

    1. And grandmothers often do, Kristina! My 87-year-old mom spends quite a bit of time on the internet. You’ve outlined a good rule-of-thumb.

    1. But if each of those employers is interviewing dozens of people, they only need to reject 1 of those dozens because of their activity on social media, and that will still count towards the 34 percent, I think. Right?

  3. Your post is very helpful considering 1 out of every 7 or 8 people is out of work. That just goes to show that it's not just celebrities that need to be cognizant of what they post.

  4. You could try using facebook filters for your postings, but who’s to say facebook won’t change their settings once again a few months down the road, making your posts visible to the public? Best to be careful about posts

    1. Yes, Andrew, as the old saying goes, “You can’t NOT communicate. Job seekers have to be very aware that employers are reading their every move from the moment they enter the facility or pick up the phone for the interview–and from their every interaction online (no matter how long the trail from the past).

  5. You really make it appear really easy along with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I’d by no means understand. It sort of feels too complex and very vast for me. I am looking ahead on your subsequent publish, I will attempt to get the hold of it!

  6. You’re right; it is a complex subject. I’m always learning new things myself because technology changes rapidly. But the human dimension and reactions remain fairly constant. Please keep in touch for later posts.

  7. I worry for this next generation. I have a son who is 16 and a daughter who is 15. We’ve had some great talks regarding this very topic. Luckily, I haven’t seen anything to cause me concern; however, I cannot say the same for their friends.

    1. Good for you, Jen. If every parent had such foresight, they might save their kids lots of grief once they start job-hunting.

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