Worst social mistakes in recruitment

Social media mistakes

Whether you’re a recruiter or a jobseeker, you’ll be aware of the positive potential of social media to help you find jobs or candidates. But as with most shiny new fads, we’ve still got a lot to learn.

And while most of us realise it’s not advisable to post that picture of the tequila tasting party alongside our LinkedIn profile, there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid when using social media. Here are just a few.



Take heed of the story of a Connor Riley, who tweeted US tech firm Cisco who had just offered him a job.

He tweeted, “Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute and hating the work.” The tweet was picked up by some of his new colleagues and didn’t go down too well. So whether you’ve just landed that vital second interview or a peachy potential candidate, think about how you broadcast it, or maybe even keep it to yourself.


I hate my boss!

There are many reasons to look for a new job, not least because you’re not getting on well with your line manager. But think twice before letting your online connections know how you feel about it.

One woman recently posted to Facebook that she thought her boss was a “pervy *add expletive here*” who kept “giving me rubbish stuff just to annoy me.” However she’d forgotten that she’d added him as a friend on Facebook some time before. He told her not to bother coming in the next day, and put her P45 in the post.


Locking yourself out

The cautious approach to using social media is to ramp up your privacy levels, restricting Facebook to friends only and protecting your tweets. But don’t shut potential connections out, as US pharmacy CVS did.

It asked customers to get in touch with suggestions and feedback to a Twitter handle that was locked for several weeks. As a recruiter or a jobseeker, shutting yourself off in this way could cost you a placement. Similarly, on LinkedIn, leaving off contact details will discourage connections from contacting you.


Mixing up accounts

Perhaps you use a separate Twitter handle for talking to candidates. But while it’s fine to let followers know you’re enjoying a team lunch and reflect some personality, beware of sharing the same gripes you might on your personal Twitter account or Facebook page.

An employee of car company Chrysler’s social media agency made this mistake, tweeting: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to drive.” The company had to issue an apology and the staff member was sacked.


Totally relying on social media

The idea of conducting a whole interview via social media might appeal in a sector where social media savvy is a key job requirement, but it’s not really practical for most roles. It’s difficult to convey much about yourself or ask an in-depth question in just 140 characters, and in group scenarios some participants may be let down by their connection speed.

Consider instead setting up or participating in a job or careers chat under a relevant hashtag: this way, candidates can learn more about the role and move on to a formal interview later.



Online or off, lying about your education and/or experience will always come back to bite you.

Scott Thompson, who was brought in as chief executive of Yahoo last year, found this to his cost when it was discovered he had lied about obtaining a computer science and accounting degree. He was forced to quit after just six months in the role.

Because your social media profile perhaps doesn’t feel as a ‘real’ as a bona fide CV, it can be tempting to add nuggets of experience or even education. What will often catch you out is a lack of consistency, if a reference or job title on your LinkedIn profile is represented differently on your actual CV, recruiters will smell a rat.


Getting into arguments

What makes social media different from more traditional approaches to recruitment is the fact you can strike up a conversation. But sometimes the age-old advice about “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all” is worth keeping in mind.

If a jobseeker asks a question about the recruitment process or is concerned about something, respond to it in an objective way. If they ask “why wasn’t I invited to an interview?”, steer the conversation onto email or direct message. Getting personal or touchy about criticism on a public forum like Twitter will only damage your reputation.


Thinking size matters

When it comes to jobseeking, quality matters more than quantity. Notching up 30,000 followers on Twitter or a record number of connections on LinkedIn might do your ego a world of good, but means little to a hiring manager.

So don’t bulk-mail your LinkedIn connections asking for recommendations. Aim for a realistic number, such as five, from people you worked with closely who will be able to make constructive comments about your experience. And while LinkedIn will allow you to join up to 50 groups, it would be impossible to participate fully in every single one of those, so limit activity to groups where you can make a valuable contribution.


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