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Top 5 Red Flags From Candidates on Social Media

While social media is nothing new, organizations are still grappling with best practices related to their employees’ or prospective employees’ online behavior. At what point does a company have to draw a line between an employee’s behavior at work and their behavior on their personal time? It’s a tough question to answer and there’s an entire spectrum of stances that organizations take. 

However, most recruiters agree that there are things prospects can do on social media that raise eyebrows and can possibly disqualify them from eligibility for hire. Here, we’ll discuss five red flags that you should weigh heavily when reviewing a candidate’s social media behavior.

1. Violations of Professional Codes of Conduct 

In the accounting industry, trust is one of the most important values. The American Institute of CPAs, the Internal Revenue Service, and other accounting  societies provide very clear and strict direction outlining how accounting professionals are to conduct themselves with regard to company and client information. In short, if a review of a candidate’s social media postings reveals them posting sensitive information, posting information about their employers or clients, or even providing person-specific advice in a public way (that is, having a conversation with someone about their financial situation outside of a private message), you should probably move on.

2. Bad-Mouthing Employers (Current or Former)

This one can blend with #1 a bit; however, it’s more general in scope. Individuals who are active on social media, particularly Millennials, tend to wear their emotions on their digital sleeves. If they’re having a bad day, they’re apt to post a status accordingly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for their employer in and of itself. However, where this crosses the line is if it delves into any specifics about the company, its employees, its clients, its managers, and so forth.

3. Pictures Taken Inside the Office

While this can seem innocuous, it can easily create a code of conduct violation. Imagine an employee takes a selfie and behind them is a bookshelf with binders of client information with the clients’ names written largely on the spines. The employee has unwittingly just broadcasted a part of your (confidential!) client list to the entire world. Now, not only does the employee have a problem, but so does your organization. Most candidates are sensitive to this and will either (a) sanitize the image before posting it or, better yet, (b) never take pictures in the office. If a candidate failed to do either, then you should probably pass.

4. Significant Activity During Working Hours 

If the candidate has prior full-time employment  (that is, they’re not fresh out of college), it stands to reason that they were probably working between 9 and 5. If you notice that they’re posting to Facebook 20 times a day and those posts are spread out between 9 and 5, you probably have someone who spends time on the Internet rather than working. If they’re just posting a bunch of items in a short time period, it’s probably no big deal. But, if they’re posting every half hour (assuming the activity isn’t relevant to their prior position), that’s most likely an issue.

5. Inappropriate or Grammatically Incorrect Content

This one is pretty subjective,  but if you see the candidate posting derogatory or inappropriate content, using foul language,  improper grammar, and the like, then you might have reason to pause. This is where your organization has to determine where it draws the line between personal and professional. Does the candidate have a right to their views (or a lackadaisical  approach to grammar) on their personal, though public-facing, pages? Does the organization have the right to police that?

Are the chances good that the organization’s clients, vendors, and other stakeholders will see this content and interpret it as reflective of the organization? What are the apparent privacy settings on the posts (e.g., are they publicly visible or visible only to friends or connections)? Most organizations’ stances revolve around the notion that how a person behaves outside of work is an indicator of how they’ll behave inside and tend to err on the side of caution when they come across a candidate who seems to regularly post provocative content.

Using these red flags as a guide can help you filter out prospective candidates quickly. Of course, if you want access to candidates that are vetted and professional, no problem! We have tons of qualified, professional candidates ready to go. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you find accounting and financial professionals!

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Accounting Principals

We're Accounting Principals--a leader in finance and accounting staffing. In fact, since 2010, we've been part of Adecco Group, a Global 500 company and leader in staffing services around the world. But this isn't staffing as usual. We take quite a different approach than most staffing agencies. A people-focused approach. We believe in forming real relationships with both our clients and our candidates. We want to understand the needs on both sides.