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Was Your Application Denied Because of What You Posted Online?

Social Media Collage
Source: Social Media Collage Wikimedia Commons

You spotted a great job opening online and submitted your resume and cover letter. You were sure you’d get a call or email informing you about an interview. Instead, you hear nothing back. Why did the employer dismiss your application?

Job seekers sometimes forget that the information in your application is not all that employers are looking at. Employers often do due diligence on candidates they find intriguing, and they typically start with online research—including social media.

What Are Employers Searching For?
Could your application have been denied because you posted something offensive, ill-timed or insensitive online? Very possibly. Employers today might do a quick Google search on your name (in quotes, and using the city in which you live) to see what comes up. Have you been featured in news articles? Do you have a blog or website?

Employers often look at your social media profiles, comments you have posted on other people’s blogs and in news articles, as well as the images of you that appear online (in which you are tagged). If given enough time, and if the effort is warranted, some employers will dig into archived social media sites (such as MySpace) to look for patterns of behavior or beliefs.

As noted in this article, “…when companies conduct social-media checks on prospective hires, they typically are searching for legitimate evidence to withdraw or rethink a job offer, such as references to drugs or other illegal activities, comments that are discriminatory or harassing, or signs that an applicant has been dishonest about work history or abilities.”

What Do Employers Want to Find?
When employers look through social media sites, websites and blogs they are also looking to find the good content, too! They look to see progression of skills, talents and passion. Were you passionate about international relations in college? Did your work in the military build on those interests? After separating, did you pursue a career or extra schooling in government or law? How do your posts or blogs reflect that growing interest?

One employer I spoke with stated it this way: “If you tell me you are drawn to our industry – aerospace – yet nothing you post, write about or comment on online reflects that passion, I might question your sincerity.”

Employers look for consistency between what your resume states, what you tell them, and where you spend your time and effort. As you focus your career on specific employers, industries, and jobs, look across your social media posts to highlight your qualifications, talents and interest in the work.

The Opportunity
As you separate from your military career, consider how your online relationships, posts and images reflect the identity and value you want employers to see in you. To build your positioning (as a Subject Matter Expert, valuable addition to their team, leader, etc.) with employers, make sure your online profiles use the same tone, words and themes as are reflected in your resume and interview. It serves no one if you are one person online, and a different person on your resume. Employers aren’t looking for perfection, they seek individuals who will grow and contribute value to their organization as the job requires.

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Contributor

Lida Citroën, a branding expert based in Denver, has made a career of helping people and companies create new or enhanced identities. She is passionate about helping veterans learn how to compete for careers in the civilian sector. A TEDx Speaker, Lida presents her unique personal branding training programs across the U.S., at military installations and events, serves on the Board of Directors of NAVSO  volunteers with ESGR, and has produced numerous programs and materials to help military veterans successfully transition after service. If you have a transition question Lida can help answer, email her at lida@lida360.com. She is also the author of the best selling book, "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition," available at www.YourNextMissionBook.com and on Amazon.