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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

Social Media Is Ruining Your Chances of Getting a Job, But Not in the Way You Think

Everywhere you look, social media is filled with overused hyperbole.

I tripped on the way to the bathroom today, epic fail.

I am looking for the world’s best quiche recipe. Go!

My husband is the best ever <3


Hyperbole—exaggerated statements or claims not to be taken literally—can be a useful device to make a point, and it brings added spice to a conversations. Spice is good, but who wants to eat a spoonful of paprika? Right, me neither.

The Problem With Status Updates

Social media allows you to be more transparent and more connected than ever before, but it also encourages you to be more superficial, branding yourself in a certain way that hides your faults and gives your friends FOMO. Social media peer pressure subconsciously draws you to conform: You become addicted to likes—tempted to exaggerate further or put out a message people will respond to even if it’s not fully honest.

Many people use this strategy in their job search, unaware that it’s holding them back from being genuine and authentic. Have you ever used an absurd hashtag or related a regular difficulty as an epic fail? If so, you’re participating in social media norms that cause word-inflation—the process by which powerful words mean less and less over time from repetition (e.g., you’re not “dying” over fashion; your life isn’t “over” because you’re late to work; and your ex isn’t “the worst person who ever lived”).

When you post hyperbole as fact regularly, it becomes your standard method of expressing yourself, and it prevents you from learning how to describe—and maybe even assess—yourself and your reality. So while social media is poised to be an outlet where you can learn to be creative and uniquely expressive, it can entrench you in using over-the-top phrases, statements, and slang to convey your thoughts, feelings, and situation.

Social Media and Your Candidacy

When you look for a new job, whether it’s out of necessity or because you’re ready for the next thing, it’s usually a stressful time. When stressed, many people fall back on what they’re used to. And if you’re used to exaggerating on social media, you may not realize the extent to which this language bleeds onto your application, which can make you unlikable—or worse.

Hyperbolic buzzwords such as amazing team player, driven, out-of-the-box-thinker, and results-oriented appear on hundreds of resumes, but they’re never the reason someone is hired. Why? Because they don’t show your unique value. When the majority of the resumes that a hiring manager reviews contain the same buzzwords, how will she know you’re special? What does amazing team player even mean at that point? Nothing.

I have interviewed hundreds of people: There is a stark difference between those who rely on buzzwords because that’s what they think I want to hear and those who have a unique story to tell. One type is forgettable, the other memorable. I’ll let you choose which is which.

Of course, being an amazing team player is a positive and valuable thing to have in an employee. But, when thrown around without context, it actually makes it more difficult to connect with you. First, it throws you into the pool with all of the other “amazing team players,” and second, there are a hundred different ways of being an amazing team player, so without providing specifics, it doesn’t really tell me anything about you.

Are you the person in a group who can understand all of the different ideas being shared and combine them into an action plan? Or are you the person who doesn’t say much but works behind the scenes to make sure all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted? Do you make sure others are heard? Are you a natural leader or a follower or both? You show your value not by using buzzwords, but by highlighting your specific accomplishments. Prove you are an amazing team player by relaying a story of a time you successfully worked as part of a team.

So, What’s the Solution?

The good news is: The problem is actually the key to the solution. Revitalize your current and future job search by avoiding catch phrases and hyperbole and practicing sincerity and accuracy in your language. Learn to use language creatively to describe or express your thoughts. In the words of Vince Lombardi, “…perfect practice makes perfect,” and social media is a platform on which you can master the use of words to sell yourself, your ideas, and your positions. This mastery will not only help you to better connect with your friends, family, and network, but it will also help you develop skills to describe your value to a new company that will set you apart from all the team players you’re competing against.

Besides, who wants to be a team player on a team of results oriented, outside-the-box thinking team players? I would rather be a member of a team where I can add unique value. Once you do get hired, then you can appropriately share: I got hired for my dream job! #Epic! Dave for the win!

Photo of woman on computer courtesy of Shutterstock.