Ninety-two percent of job recruiters use social media to look for prospective hiring candidates, according to the latest annual Jobvite survey.1 This can make it easier for job seekers to connect with recruiters, but it can also make it easier for job candidates to make a bad first impression. Take, for instance, these stats from the Jobvite Social Recruiting survey:2
- 25 percent of recruiters see selfies negatively
- 55 percent of recruiters have reconsidered their opinion of a candidate based on their social media file
- 61 percent of recruiters have formed negative opinions due to poor spelling, bad grammar, profanity, and sexual and drug references
Here are some basic but important online etiquette lessons that high schools and career colleges should be teaching students to ensure they don't lose a job over a digital faux pas:
1. Don't Use Emoticons on Job Applications
Teach students not to use emoticons in cover letters, resumes and job applications. While emoticons are fine in informal email, texts and tweets, they can make a bad impression on recruiters and hiring managers. Recruiters are evaluating a candidate's ability to communicate in a business context using professional language. Emoticons convey an informal tone that can cause recruiters to question the sender's communication skills, as well as their common sense.
Additionally, emoticons are more ambiguous than written or verbal language, creating a risk that a recruiter may interpret a message differently than the way the sender intended it. Emoticons should be reserved for informal contexts after a person has been hired.
2. Use Professional Profile and Email Names
The name an applicant uses for their social media profile or email address helps create and reinforce a recruiter's first impression of a candidate. A name that’s frivolous, trendy, immature or vulgar will create a negative first impression. For email addresses and social media profiles intended to be used for job seeking and business communication, teach your students to choose names that sound professional.
An email domain name can also convey a positive or negative impression. Job seekers using a Gmail address might consider using Google's custom business domain name option.3
3. Spelling and Grammar Matter
When recruiters are evaluating an applicant's communication skills, spelling and grammar count. Sixty-six percent of recruiters responding to Jobvite's survey said that poor spelling and bad grammar would create a negative impression of an applicant. Teach job seekers to double-check their spelling and grammar before sending cover letters, resumes and other important communication. They shouldn’t use abbreviations as is customary in texting, nor should they type in all caps. Instruct them to use precise vocabulary, good grammar and organized paragraphs that express their points clearly and succinctly.
4. Use a Formal Tone
Job seekers should follow formal conventions in emails and other communication. Teach students to err on the side of formality when using greetings in introductory emails, including addressing the recipient by a courtesy title and their last name (“Ms. Smith”). In follow-up emails, follow the recruiter's lead on what type of greeting to use and whether to use first or last names.
5. Avoid Excessive Follow-up Communication
Recruiters are typically too busy to field follow-up phone calls, making email a better way to follow up. To respect the recruiter's time, instruct students to keep their emails short. They should briefly remind the recruiter of their application/interview and request an update. Email frequency should communicate interest, not desperation. Candidates should wait a week or two after an interview before attempting to follow up. For some positions, the candidate selection process may take longer.
Finally, remind students to check their spam folder to make sure an employer hasn't already responded.
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