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Social media and job-hunting: the good, the bad and the savvy

By RVM Communications

When it comes to job hunting, social media can be a double-edged sword.


For young people who have graduated or who are looking for employment, there’s no doubt that having an online presence is important; some might even say critical. Nkosinathi Mahlangu, Head of the Youth Employment Portfolio at Momentum Metropolitan, says that not only can social media be a valuable tool in helping you discover career opportunities, it can “also assist in your own personal and professional brand-building.”

A survey among more than 2000 hiring managers and human resource professionals by a recruitment site CareerBuilder revealed that two in five companies browse candidates’ social media profiles to evaluate their character. When respondents were asked what they were looking for, 65% said they did it to see if the job seeker presented themself professionally, while 51% wanted to see if the candidate would be a good cultural fit. Some said they used social media to determine whether the candidate was ‘well-rounded.’

The Good

There are many benefits to using social media when looking for employment. “Job hunters can follow experts or organisations on social media within their desired industry or career path of choice, which may create opportunities for networking or engagement.

They can follow recruitment groups where vacancies might be regularly advertised, helping keep abreast of job opportunities. Social media also provides you with a platform to establish your professional profile. “Without any social media use or presence, it’s very difficult to keep your finger on the pulse of the job market,” he adds.

The Bad

On the flip side, misuse of social media can sabotage your career prospects – at the touch of a ‘post’ button. In CareerBuilder’s survey, around a third of employers who scan social media profiles when considering job candidates claimed to have found content that prevented them from employing someone.

Forty-five per cent said they didn’t hire someone because they saw evidence of drinking and / or drug use, while around 50% of employers said provocative or inappropriate photos stopped them from hiring. Other reasons cited included social media evidence of poor communication skills, badmouthing previous employers, discrimination or bigotry, and falsifying qualifications and experience.

“Job seekers be warned: while at school or university your social media persona may not have mattered as much but it can severely hinder your employability prospects when you start looking for employment. Be wary of posting offensive comments or images that might create a negative impression or go against professional values.”

He also warns that there is no such thing as a completely private social profile. “In the age of the screenshot, if it’s online, assume that the world might see it. This also applies to comments you make on other posts. The rule is: if you wouldn’t put it on a billboard, don’t publish it on social media.”

The Savvy

Mahlangu says that it’s important to be social media-savvy, and offers the below tips for job-seekers who want to leverage social media to help them achieve their career goals.


Use social as your public resume – Professional platforms such as LinkedIn offer an ideal opportunity to showcase your skills. Treat it as a resume; ensure you use a professional image on your profile, that there are no typos, and that any work experience or qualifications are prominently displayed. Remember, even if you have no formal work history, listing activities such as waitering or volunteering helps to demonstrate work ethic and experience, so they are worth including.


Leverage platforms to showcase your talents – What are your unique skills? Consider the platforms available, and how you can use these to showcase your talents. For example, if you’re an aspiring writer, you might use X or LinkedIn’s article feature to showcase your work. If you’re a photographer or videographer, Instagram or TikTok could help get your work out there, while Facebook groups such as The Resource can connect you with prospective employers. Remember, recruiters and hiring managers aren’t just on professional platforms – they’re everywhere.


Understand the ‘network’ in ‘social network’ – Possibly the best thing about social media is its ability to connect you to others. Exploit this to its full potential; join groups, follow experts in your industry, and subscribe for company updates and prospective employers. And then don’t just sit back; engage. Remember, the effort you put into your social media job hunt is directly correlated to what you can expect to get out of it.”


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