What employers don’t want to see on your online profiles

Anton P. | September 07, 2021

Glowing resumes, recommendations, and cover letters might be in vain due to candidates’ off-putting online profiles. Potential hires must consider that their activity on various digital platforms might sway employers in a particular direction. After all, many companies look for specialists with personalities matching the set corporate culture. Specific attributes could even influence the final verdict, especially in a competitive job market. Thus, let’s take a look at the red flags recruiters look for in job seekers’ profiles.

What employers don’t want to see on your online profiles

Why do recruiters cyberstalk applicants?

People can be rather outspoken in the digital space. They might use Facebook or Twitter to vent or express their profound feelings on a certain topic. Others might expect the digital world to cover their identity and that their activity will not influence their lives. The false assumption of anonymity is a dangerous matter, as users struggle to understand the scope of digital surveillance.

According to a survey by The Manifest, 98% of employers perform online background checks. 90% of them also claimed that social media profiles are high on the priority list. Lastly, a shocking 79% of respondents admitted to having rejected applicants based on their social media presence.

However, having a voice and an active online profile is not something you need to avoid. In some cases, your fresh perspective and reflections might make recruiters want you more. Nevertheless, it can be challenging to filter personal opinions and understand the power of the words you use.

Think before posting

Recruiters can swiftly detect which candidates showcase questionable behavior. After all, employers wish to retain a particular corporate image that requires respectable team members. Thus, many companies avoid associating with individuals who could taint their reputation. And since social media and other digital footprints are the new windows to people’s souls, its role in the hiring process is here to stay.

So, the the dive into your social media accounts and other platforms achieve these goals:

  • To find out more about candidates’ lifestyles and preferences. Job interviews can be rather stiff and formal. Hence, recruiters wish to uncover more about the applicants’ personalities.
  • To look for red flags in people’s behavior and beliefs. Companies might have different standards and expectations for their employees. However, recruiters will typically reject people for similar shady reasons.
  • To determine whether the potential hire fits the corporate culture. There might be minor cues signaling about a person’s priorities. This additional background check helps determine whether the company will be a good fit for them. In some cases, companies will simply decide not to waste their and the candidates’ time.

What online content can get you rejected?

HR specialists label certain online content as off-putting and worthy of rejection:

  • Images or posts about partying or the use of illegal substances. Boasting about your wild weekend does not impress potential employers. Questionable posts might compel companies to require pre-employment drug tests. It all depends on the state laws governing the hiring process.
  • Hate speech or improper comments. Being rude never pays off, and recruiters will never approve of candidates that insult others. Companies value friendly work environments, and such individuals might ruin the atmosphere. Thus, it is understandable that ill-mannered candidates will have a higher chance of getting rejected.
  • Offensive or illegal content. A strong argument for disqualifying specific candidates is derogatory content. If an applicant leaves disrespectful comments on characteristics like ethnicity, religion, or disability, it will be a red flag.
  • Poor grammar and errors. If you claim to be a well-versed professional, writing posts full of mistakes is not a good sign. Of course, it might depend on the position you apply for. However, typically, recruiters will expect a certain level of proficiency in spelling and grammar.
  • Exposing confidential information on people or former jobs. If a candidate discloses classified information after leaving a particular company, it is a red flag. Of course, the context is important here, but usually, employers will tread lightly.
  • Disrespect towards the company candidates apply for. Never insult your employer before even showing up for your first day. Rude attitudes towards companies can never end well. Connor Riley learned this lesson the hard way after ridiculing Cisco on Twitter after being offered a job. Sources claim different circumstances, but you should always avoid public discussions or comments on companies you apply for.

What recruiters cannot do

Recruiters have the right to reject candidates because of an insulting Twitter comment. However, discrimination of applicants is not only wrong but can be illegal. For instance, HR specialists cannot reject potential hires due to the following characteristics:

  • Religion
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Disability

Do hired employees’ profiles get checked?

The hired employees should maintain clean social media profiles as well. It is likely that your HR specialists will check your profile occasionally. The disruptive and offensive content might even get enough media attention to compel the company to fire you. Here are some of the stories of people who have lost their job over inappropriate or offensive posts.

  • An assistant account executive carelessly posted a photo of a celebratory dinner after landing a new client. According to the job contract, no news could appear publicly before the PR team handled the information flow.
  • HSBC bankers got fired after posting a video mocking ISIS victim execution.
  • A high school math teacher was let go after posting near-nude photos and tweets on drug use.
  • A PR executive was fired after posting a racist tweet. The woman traveled to Africa and associated Aids with race. And while she issued an apology, Barry Diller’s company dismissed her shortly after the tweet.

Thus, the careless use of social media can quickly land you in hot water. Even if you have been a successful employee for years, companies will react to derogatory and inappropriate posts.

How to keep your digital identity proper?

You do not want your digital footprints to kill your job prospects. Thus, you should always think before you post. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Social media is no longer exclusively for your friends and family. Recruiters pay a lot of attention to the personality you create online. Hence, always think twice before posting. A simple rule is to think: do I want my employer to see this post? When in doubt, do not post it!
  • Do not be afraid to have a bold voice. Recruiters will appreciate candidates that know how to speak their mind. Thus, there is no reason that you cannot post harmless content or your opinion on specific topics. All it takes is to be respectful and well-mannered.
  • Do not assume that comments on forums or other platforms are anonymous. We all leave little breadcrumbs online that can lead right back to us. Thus, if necessary, authorities or even random people on the internet can identify precisely who posted something online. For instance, a notorious Reddit troll, violentacrez, experienced doxxing first hand. His misogynistic posts and sexualized photos of underage women were offensive and downright despicable. The consequences of his actions hit when the world found out about the man behind the nickname: Michael Brutsch.
  • Remove old accounts and posts. Careless posts and activities in the past can come back to haunt you. Of course, you might need to contact specific platforms if you have forgotten your passwords.
  • Reduce digital footprints overall. You can control the active footprints you leave (such as comments or posts). However, what about the passive ones? When you visit any website, it reads your IP address and likely implants third-party cookies. You can refuse the latter, but many users disregard this option even though it would help them stay anonymous. Additionally, consider using a VPN to hide your IP address so that digital entities would not be able to read your actual location. Finally, block third-party cookies via your browser to avoid unnecessary tracking.
Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.



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