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How to Get (and Lose) a Job on Social Media

February 20, 2017


By Sian Havard (Milkshake Group) and Kate Wilson (Cinc Social Media)


As the world increasingly becomes more open and connected, (sorry, and yes - one of us used to work at Facebook), it’s essential job hunters understand exactly how social media fits into the job-search process, how they can use it to their advantage, and just how easily it can turn into a nightmare.


From LinkedIn to Facebook, Quora to Tumblr, social media allows people to express themselves like never before. It also creates endless opportunities for us to share things, which in hindsight, we sometimes wish others had never seen. Jon Ronson’s brilliant book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” (if you haven’t read it - please, please track down a copy) explores the topic of social media implosions, and examines the case of Justine Sacco, who became international news, spawned a globally trending meme and lost her job - because of a single tweet.


Sadly Justine isn’t the only example of someone who lost their job as a result of social media. We want you to learn from their mistakes and make sure you’re equipped to use social to your advantage when job-seeking. Here are a few things you can do right now to stop social media ruining your job hunt. 


Think BEFORE You Like or Comment on Public Posts


Please, please, please (can we emphasise that enough?) watch what you like or comment on. That hilarious post titled “Hate Your Boss? 10 Steps to Get You Through the Next Workday” that you loved and tagged six friends in immediately? We can see that. All of it. Now imagine we’re a recruiter you’ve just sent a resume to for what looks to be your dream job, and we accidentally come across your profile on social media. Let’s take a quick look at what we can deduce, just from that one little click:


  • You hate your boss. Enough said.

  • You’re probably hate your job right now too.

  • Six of your friends hate their boss as much as you do.

  • You are all probably looking to leave your jobs pretty soon.

  • Your name, your six friends names, possibly where you all live, probably where you all work (and if we can’t find that there, we can probably just head over to LinkedIn to figure it out).

  • You’re willing to publicly share negative opinions about your employer, which means you might do the same about the company we are recruiting for, which is frankly, a bit worrying.

  • There might just be a treasure trove of other interesting social media tidbits you’ve liked, which we’ll just take a super quick look at now...and oh, WOW.


Still think you have a good shot at that job you just applied for?


By All Means Complain, But Please Complain Well


One evening, exhausted, you give into your day long craving and buy that burger from a fast food chain on your way home from work. You get home, grab a drink, switch on the TV, and take a bite of that burger  have been looking forward to all day - when you realise they messed up your order. Not only is it the wrong burger, it’s actually a cheaper burger than what paid for. You are tired, had a really big day at work (and we already know you hate your boss).


So you jump on Twitter and immediately fire off 140 characters filled with your disgust at the company. You then demand a refund, threaten the company with further action, and post a photo of the offending burger (which to be fair… is no longer looking like it did when you unwrapped it).


You’re annoyed at the company, had a terrible day, and want them to pay. Other people start to chime in on Twitter, backing you up and voicing their hatred of the company. Secretly feeling good about the attention you are getting from your supporters, you happily post tweet after tweet for half an hour or so, particularly impressed with that cutting meme you shared. You get swept up in the hatred, lose your inhibitions, and before long you have started criticising the appearance of the person who served you.


But you forgot you added your Twitter handle to your resume. The next day the hiring manager for that amazing job opportunity you applied for takes a look at your account to get a sense of what you’re interested in. The company uses Twitter all the time and encourages everyone to follow and share interesting content daily. They come across #burgergate and instantly realise you:


  • Don’t know how to give constructive feedback or take a considered approach

  • Prefer to hide behind a screen instead of picking up the phone or speaking to someone in person (you could’ve phoned the burger place, or gone back in to have a chat to the manager about it)

  • Assume worst intentions instead of best (that cashier deliberately gave you the wrong burger, instead of it being an innocent mistake)

  • Aren’t considerate of others and judge them on things like their appearance

  • Are not a good fit for their company


You receive a rejection email the next day, and can’t understand why.


Avoid Accidentally Becoming The Subject of An Internet Meme - Or At Least Maximise Your Chances Of Getting That Dream Job.


Have you ever thought about what a recruiter or hiring manager might think if they came across your social media accounts? We’ll show you, and make sure you know how to fix them. “The Social Network: How to Get (and Lose) a Job on Social Media” will be held on Tuesday 14 March in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall at The Capital. Earlybird tickets now on sale.

About Us


Sian Havard: Founder of Milkshake Group and QUT graduate who coaches people looking for awesome careers. A global digital recruiting expert recently returned from London who has recruited the world's top talent into the USA, EMEA and Asia Pacific at brands like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Atlas and award-winning social video advertising start-up Unruly.

Kate Wilson: Founder of Cinc Social Media and a QUT graduate who spends her days telling stories online and coaching businesses in sustainable social media techniques. An experienced journalist, political staffer and jack of all trades who spent eight years in state politics advising Ministers and a Premier, when not mopping up numerous social media disasters.

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