Avoid Hiring Drama

Avoid Hiring Drama: 8 Social Media Red Flags for Software Employers

When a job seeker wants to get a role, he carefully compiles the resume and describes in detail all his skills, abilities, and functional duties that he performed at his previous positions. He collects portfolios and recommendations, does everything he can to “advertise and sell” his resume and himself at the end. But do these steps represent the real person that a potential employer considers hiring, or is that just a surface-level mis-representation meant to get a job?

Job seekers often forget that software companies and recruitment agencies have an additional source of information about them – social networks. After all, applicants put their lives on display by themselves, not caring about who might see them in not the best light. And of course, hiring professionals gladly use it.

According to the Harris Poll (2020), 71% of hiring decision-makers believe that every company should screen potential candidates’ social media profiles when considering them for a position. Furthermore, 41% of employers say that they might not interview a candidate if they can’t find them online, particularly on LinkedIn. From hidden biases to violations of company policies, there are a plethora of warning signs that can impact your recruitment process, and your reputation, if not identified and handled properly. 

In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at 8 red flags associated with social media screening that SaaS employers should watch out for when hiring tech professionals. Keep reading to learn valuable tips on how to avoid any nasty surprises during the recruitment process!


Why screen social media profiles?

When hiring, software companies want to find not only educated and experienced specialists, but to assemble a team of engaged, like-minded people aimed at a common goal. A new employee must fit the corporate culture, get along with colleagues, successfully adapt and not just stay with the company during the onboarding period, but also become a loyal and productive team member for years to come. Because of this, both professional and personal information should be examined, including social networks.

In addition, social media data can not only help a company to learn more about the candidate’s personality but also serve to verify the information from the resume. Most, if not all, hiring managers have repeatedly encountered situations when searching for a particular professional, accountant for instance, during the final candidate’s background checks it turned out that his education was not in economics or social studies as he indicated in his resume. The deception is often revealed by reviewing candidates’ pages on social media where they display true data about their university and specialty, take an active part in the graduates’ forum of the educational institution, etc. 

Nevertheless, checking a candidate’s social media profile is not an essential step. This is more of an auxiliary tool that can help the recruiter and hiring manager make the final decision. In general, software employers study the following points in the potential employees’ social media screening:

  • Personality traits. A personal page can characterize its owner far and wide. Your internal tech recruiter can create a slight psychological portrait after reviewing the social media profile.
  • Relevance of information. A social media page can confirm or refute the data from a resume. Facts that did not appear in the resume may “surface” in the process of viewing.
  • Frequency of posts and changes. Simple note: if a candidate posts several posts a day in his profile during working hours, then the future employer should have questions regarding employee performance.
  • Social circle. Tell me who your friend is, and I’ll tell you who you are. By checking the candidate’s friends, it will be easier to understand whether the indicated information is true and what kind of leisure, hobbies, and interests a person has.
  • Meaning of posts. If the content of the candidate’s posts is aggressive, negative, or even illegal, then the possibility of employment may fall dramatically. Reviews about former employers or clients should also be taken into account by the HR manager.
  • Visual component. This aspect mostly concerns the representatives of creative and media-active professions: web developers, UI/UX designers, multimedia artists, SMM professionals, PR managers, etc. Their personal and professional social media pages are a kind of virtual resume or portfolio.

When to raise the red flags?

  • 1. Violent or sexually explicit content

Would you hire a personal trainer whose Facebook page is riddled with violent content about the female body? Or would you recommend a children’s tutor with no pedagogical posts on her Instagram profile but hundreds of bikini photos and duck-faced selfies? 

According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 40% of hiring decision-makers indicated provocative or inappropriate content as their #1 concern regarding candidates’ social media profiles. Tech recruiters have seen a lot on social media, from advocacy of violence to sexual bravado. One swear word and a photo in a noisy company surrounded by empty bottles should not scare a software employer. But if this is not an isolated case, and the candidate is dancing on a bartop in every third photo, it’s understandable when doubts start to creep up about the candidate’s professional skills and corporate culture suitability.

  • 2. Proof or encouragement of illegal activity

SaaS leaders are not looking for employees who may have an addiction, a drinking or drug problem harming the team and hindering their productivity at work. In fact, 36% of hiring decision-makers turn down candidates who post about alcohol and drug use, even if there’s no direct proof of taking them.

The only thing the proper candidate can say about drugs is “This is wrong, don’t do that”. If your prospective tech professional is often cracking jokes about using drugs or being around people who take them or feel comfortable discussing them in such a public platform, that’s a sure sign to put the resume away.

  • 3. Racism and intolerance

People don’t like trolls. If recruiters find out that an applicant is criticizing someone based on gender, religion, race, or other heated topics in the comments, their candidacy is very likely to be rejected. Discriminatory comments are the #3 reason why not to hire a candidate, according to 31% of company leaders in a CareerBuilder survey.

Sometimes even some harmless memes look quite ominous on social networks and can be misinterpreted. Unlike a candidate’s close friends, employers aren’t supposed to understand such a sense of humor. In cases where there is greater room for interpretation, the recruiter or hiring manager may choose to conduct more interviews or even reject the individual, regardless of their other qualities. IT employers that have a firm grasp on the scope of their corporate values and the logical argument behind them will be better equipped to discern when further background checks are required and when a candidate poses a threat to the safety of their tech team.

  • 4. Ranting 

The National Labor Relations Board has declared that employers may terminate their workers for remarks posted on social media, even if the statements do not pertain to the workplace or any of the staff working there. A candidate should feel free to voice his position online but refrain from making angry or overly emotional statements on sensitive subjects, such as policy, or from joining an online dispute that has already occurred. After all, even well-intentioned posts might be misconstrued and spark hostility if the wrong person reads into them.

There is a very thin line between an activist and an extremist. There’s nothing wrong if the candidate has his own opinion and he declares it, as it is possible to estimate whether the candidate’s position coincides with the company’s values. And, of course, if this position is expressed in a friendly and unobtrusive way without aggression and insults.

  • 5. Lying about qualifications

Background checks for employment history and education aren’t the only things that may be used to verify credentials; social media can, too. Some candidates make false claims on their resumes that may be easily disproved by browsing their social media profiles. Or they can have contradictions between their social media profiles and their CV. These types of falsehoods may assist a SaaS firm to understand an applicant’s personal traits and assess whether the individual meets the qualifications for a post.

Additionally, sound the alarm if the applicant is caught plagiarizing on several social media platforms. Plagiarism of creative content is an indicator of a candidate’s ethics, willingness to accept credit for others’ efforts, and potential impact on group interaction.

  • 6. Poor grammar and misspellings

Who cares if the candidate knows the difference between “their”, “they’re” and “there” and how to write the word “accommodate” correctly – is that two c’s or two m’s? Well, employers do. Candidates rarely make mistakes in resumes or on professional websites, as they usually check those dozens of times before sending them to the employer. But they often have grammar and spelling mistakes on social networks. 

This is a real “deal breaker” for 79% of hiring managers, due to a TopResume survey. Such blunders speak of negligence and disinterest. Proofreading the text before publication may not take much time, but it will protect your expertise and maintain the trust of the audience. Literacy is especially important for copywriters, technical writers, community managers, SMM, email marketers, and technical support.

In addition, software employers evaluate the candidate’s communication skills – the ability to correspond with subscribers and engage in dialogue. And spelling mistakes won’t add a point to an applicant.

  • 7. Bad-mouthing a previous employer or fellow employee

Social media is definitely not the right place to complain about your manager’s shortcomings. CareerBuilder notes that 25% of employers write off candidates because of negative feedback about colleagues or a boss. For HR professionals, this is a sign that the person is not loyal to the company and tends to inflate rather than resolve conflict situations.

For instance, Intel’s internal policy states: “Protecting Intel is part of your job. Do not post confidential information on any social platform. If the information has not been officially published by Intel, do not discuss it.” Employees are also urged to contact Intel’s social media specialists if they have doubts about the veracity of posts about the company.

In addition, bad-mouthing a previous or current employer on social media gives the perception that the candidate cannot get along with others or is not a team player. Software leaders prefer positive people who can improve the skills and productivity of the whole team, even if tech team members do not always agree on everything.

  • 8. Limited social presence

What are the thoughts of a SaaS employer or a hiring manager when he can’t find the candidate online? They won’t think “He must be so humble, has an ascetic lifestyle, or protects his personal life”. On the contrary, there are going to be two main assumptions: he’s hiding something, or he has nothing to show. Now imagine a web designer who is supposed to have a beautiful, standing-out-from-the-crowd profile but there’s no social media presence at all.

According to the Harris Poll, 1 in 5 hiring decision-makers (21%) say they are not likely to consider a candidate who doesn’t have an online presence. No matter the reason, unless the applicant has a social media profile, his resume is going to the bottom of the pile.

“Remote acquaintance” through social networks allows the software employer to create a certain image of a future tech professional, to study his hobbies and interests. At the interview, according to the baggage of this knowledge, the candidate is perceived not only as a professional but also as a living person.

Struggling with background checks?

Contact me or my team at Snap Talent International. We can help software leaders ensure that they make smart hiring decisions and find the best people for both: the position and the team.

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