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A year ago I decided to give up my social media presence as I thought it was unnecessary, my time was being wasted and I was gaining nothing.

But some time ago, I read an article that had something to do with employers and social media. One of the lines in the article state:

"57% of employers will NOT interview someone without a social media presence."

I understand why having no social media might be a downfall as employers may think you’re not "up to date" with tech; but I've subscribed to many companies on my google feed for example tesla and huawei and I get tech news all the time. So I'm would say I'm up to date.

As a electronic engineering student this quote worries me for the fact that having a social media account is apparently a deciding factor. So I was wondering if this quote is true and is it possible to say to an employer that you keep up to date with technology by subscribing to articles.

closed as too broad by user34587, Solar Mike, gnat, Dukeling, Dmitry Grigoryev Apr 27 at 23:12

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    What article? It may not be relevant to electronic engineering or engineering. If it was for jobs in the music / marketing industry it might be relevant. – Solar Mike Apr 26 at 11:03
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    Might this vary by country? I'm in the UK and have never rejected a candidate / known a candidate to be rejected based on their lack of a social media presence (in the software development industry at least). – user34587 Apr 26 at 11:05
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    If you show a prospective employer a circuit you have built that does something interesting when applying for an electrical eng post that wil carry more weight than "oh I have 10000 followers for my dancing". – Solar Mike Apr 26 at 11:10
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    “86% of statistics are made up on the spot” — Galdalf the Grey. – Paul D. Waite Apr 26 at 12:47
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    @PaulD.Waite > That's in the book. In the movie it's 75%. – Laurent S. Apr 26 at 15:38
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In the article you posted it says "57% of employers will NOT interview someone without a social media presence." Yet in the survey it links to it says "57 percent are less likely to interview a candidate they can't find online".

It also says "54 percent have decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles". So you could argue that not having a social media account is actually a benefit since they can't choose to not hire you based on a lurid photo from your school graduation party.

However reading the article it is clear the author has an agenda to support assertions he made in his book a few years ago. I don't believe it reads as a balanced an neutral piece of writing at all.

Anecdotally, I have known people when recruiting to look up the interviewee online beforehand. So it might be worth making sure that quick searches are likely to show positive information. However I have NEVER known a candidate not be interviewed because they don't have a social media account.

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    Don Pirraro made a comic strip about it "see person who don't exist! He can't be googled up". – SZCZERZO KŁY Apr 26 at 11:59
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    I agree with you (and upvoted), but I think its becoming more important for some Social Media usage in some professions. I have also seen colleagues check out online presence of prospective hires. – Justin Apr 26 at 12:17
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    @Justin Yes, you're absolutely right and I think a really strong presence can be helpful. It would be unusual for a DJ or music producer to have zero social media footprint for example. Even top level coders normally have blogs, articles and GitHub repos. – Dustybin80 Apr 26 at 12:55
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    @DoctorPenguin I wasn't actually suggesting that no social media presence is an advantage. I was suggesting that the author has cherry picked (and sensationalised the language) of the report he was citing. I was trying to say that I could do the same to suggest that no social media presence is better. I think we agree that the best approach is to make sure that if someone searches for you online (to the best of your ability) they see only fairly generic or positive things. – Dustybin80 Apr 26 at 13:23
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    The 54% statistic is interestingly irrelevant, since it's calculated from the employer and not the employee side. All it says is that 54% of employers have rejected at least one person due to their social media profiles, which says nothing at all about the actual frequency of candidates being rejected due to their online profile. I'd expect that among all job applicants, only a very small fraction are rejected for this reason. – Nuclear Wang Apr 26 at 13:27
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First of all, let me tell you online presence IS NOT THE SAME AS social media presence.

I cannot certify / discard the authenticity and applicability of a(ny) specific post (the article, not the survey) found on internet, but given the practical experience, I'd say, it really does not matter much if you do not have social media presence.

Yes, it's desirable to have a professional networking account like LinkedIn, and having some personal pet projects on Github - they count as online presence (i.e., - they speak for your skillset, expertise etc.). However, not having one does not carry enough weight to be considered as one of the criteria for disqualification for interviewing.

On the other hand, as mentioned in the original survey post (not the article you've linked, the actual survey)

  • The post starts with something

    "Before posting pictures of your late-night revelry or complaints about your job on social media, think again – 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, up significantly from 60 percent last year and 11 percent in 2006."

    Which comes off more of a warning about the (improper) use of social media can actually harm your career, as recruiters and employees may get negatively impacted by not-so-professional social media posts.

    • Then, note the quote

    "This shows the importance of cultivating a positive online persona. Job seekers should make their professional profiles visible online and ensure any information that could negatively impact their job search is made private or removed."

    This also actually mentions that having an online presence is preferred and, if having one, maintaining the professional aspect is required.

    • Finally, there's along paragraph about the negative effects alone:

    Ponder Before You Post

    Learn from those before you – more than half of employers (54 percent) have found content on social media that caused them not to hire a candidate for an open role. Of those who decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles, the reasons included:

    • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information: 39 percent
    • Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 38 percent
    • Candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32 percent
    • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 30 percent
    • Candidate lied about qualifications: 27 percent
    • Candidate had poor communication skills: 27 percent
    • Candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 26 percent
    • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employers: 23 percent
    • Candidate's screen name was unprofessional: 22 percent
    • Candidate lied about an absence: 17 percent
    • Candidate posted too frequently: 17 percent

So, taken together, it's not how it is depicted in the article. The author, took the liberty to present the facts in a way that appears to be supporting his previous comments.

As you'd have noticed, most of the job application forms do not have a field for social media links / profiles. They are only necessary for relevant fields (example: PR industry), but for an engineering job, it really does not matter whether you have a social media presence or not.

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    A lot of big companies hr in the US will not look at social media for fear of legal repercussions. – Neuromancer Apr 28 at 16:08
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While I can't say whether this is a developing trend I can say that the linked to article is slightly misrepresenting what the original survey says. The linked article claims:

57% of employers will not interview someone without a social media presence.

the survey he's basing this claim off actually says:

Fifty-seven percent of employers are less likely to call someone in for an interview if they can't find a job candidate online

Not quite the same thing.

The blog article is from someone who is a sales consultant.. they are clearly (and understandably) focused on the sales profession which is a different kettle of fish to say being a software developer or a mechanic or an electrical engineer.

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    That’s not a “slight” misrepresentation. If I get fifty applicants with and fifty without, and decline to interview one without, that’s “less likely” but far from “not.” – WGroleau Apr 26 at 21:30
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    Also, "social media presence" is not the same as "finding the job candidate online". – Abigail Apr 27 at 11:29
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It varies by field. If you are hiring someone for marketing, much less a social media coordinator, I think it would be very odd if they do not have a personal and extensive social media presence. If other qualified candidates existed, this may disqualify the candidate and terminate consideration. My firm's marketing contractor has an extensive and well curated personal social media presence.

When I used to manage a team of SQL Server developers I checked on their presence on sites like stackoverflow. Not being able to find one would not stop me from interviewing the candidate (some of the names used are not exactly the name they would put on a resume), but I would ask about it during the interview. Finding out they didn't have an account would not put an end to consideration, but if they did not have any go-to community site where they both asked for and offered assistance, it would make me curious.

Some other fields may not care overly much. I think any wise employer would not want to check to ensure there was nothing on the social media site that would cause problems for the company later, but finding nothing at all would likely not be a problem for many jobs. Also, the employer would have to be careful about duplicate names. If you google my name, a golfer who is not related to me dominates the first page and a historian also comes up as well. A felon, with no relation, used to come up on the first page as well though that has thankfully fallen off the first page.

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It varies dramatically by field and practice. For instance if you're interviewing as a social media manager for a company, obviously they'll want to see that you have chops.

Other than that, they want to see if you're a blathering idiot on social media.

  • Do you complain about your job - you'd complain about them too.
  • Do your extreme viewpoints suggest future HR problems - bigotry, anti-immigration, and the like.
  • What does it say about your character - do you seemingly handle every dispute by throwing tantrums and blaming?
  • Culture and values fit -- they want to see what you won't say during your gracious, smiling interview -- if you post a lot "stir up the base" political hysteria postings, they may not want you as a fact checker.
  • Foot in Mouth Disease -- if you "run your mouth without thinking" on topics related to your trade. A lot of pilots are struggling to dance the edge of that as they try to do social media about the 737 Max.

So these things are generally excluders: These won't get you the job, they'll cost you the job. And it's HR using it as a screening method.

Of course, applicants know that, and don't want to show their social media accounts to HR. (Can't help, might hurt). So applicants seek to hide their social media activity from HR. And HR knows that, and so distrusts your claim of not having any social media activity.

So it's not a case of the company desiring employees active on social media.. it's a question of HR not trusting you when you say you aren't.

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The answers already posted here did a good job, but I'd like to add that different social media exist.

Having an account and presence in a professional social media like LinkedIn is a plus when looking for a job. It makes sense that a recruiter prefers someone with a LinkedIn profile because it's easier to contact, to know more about him professionally, or because it is easier to search for potential employees. You also have a professional approach when posting or commenting on such social media.

On the other hand, a more personal social media like Facebook or Twitter has the potential to do more harm than good because of personal posts (parties, discussions, etc.) or to potential discrimination because they see that you have certain religion, certain political beliefs, etc.

But if you have a Facebook filled with pictures of your family and the football match with you and your friends, it might give a look of someone that is real, with real life and hobbies, a bit like politicians do on their campaigns.

All this to say that it doesn't make sense to cover all social media like they were the same.

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I want to echo @Dustybin80's answer to this question and state that one of the first things I, and others on the team do is search for the person online. Sometimes after an interview, especially if the person presented a blog or github. We do searches all over the place to figure the person out. To be honest, we don't ever review code unless it's something blatantly obvious like really simply code or something that got a lot of views/downloads.

Perhaps social media is important to a lot of people and they feel as if since you don't have social media, you're not the kind of person they want in their workplace because they feel as if you'll be unopened with your coworkers. Consider it like a background vetting process and in the end, there's nothing wrong with it. Perhaps they feel since they put everything out on social media, you would too unless you got something to hide or you feel superior to them.

The way you should see it is that since you don't like social media but they do, that makes the workplace incompatible with you. So in a way, you're just as much putting the message out that you're not willing to hold a social media account just to please your employer.

My thoughts: since you're saying it's nearly 50/50 shot, that's the same chances you'd have before you read that article. So you can say to yourself that you have a 50/50 shot at getting a interview at the place.

  • do you have any HR Training you have to be careful here – Neuromancer Apr 28 at 16:10
  • @Neuromancer There's no rule or law concerning people searching for people online. Since ultimately my manager decides on it, they really can't say searching a public space is against the law or violation. However viewing people's profile is the first thing a lot of employers do as it is the easiest to see info on the person. – Dan Apr 30 at 15:59
  • There no law about searching (possibly the GPDR might impact this) but there are laws about discrimination some of which have unlimited fines, – Neuromancer Apr 30 at 19:45

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