Social Media and the Candidate

Last week, research published by Monster and YouGuv found that 56% of employers admit that candidates’ online profiles influence their hiring decisions. Here’s a link to a CIPD blog post on the subject.

The survey goes onto to say that fewer than half of job seekers are conscious of how their online reputation looks to potential employees, with just 28% also stating that they are influenced by what they read about potential employers on sites like Glassdoor.

Should it be a surprise that employers have turned down potential candidates due to their social media profiles? No.  Not really.  You can have all the ethical arguments that you want about whether recruiters should or shouldn’t check this stuff out.  But back in the real world, they just will.  And if you are careless about what you put out there, then it will come back to haunt you.  We live in a social and transparent world and there is no escaping this fact.

As to the other statistics….. if you are looking for work and you aren’t conscious of your online reputation, might I politely request you join 2016. And to anyone not checking out a potential employer on anywhere but their corporate website, the 90’s called and they want their recruitment process back.

Here’s the thing. Social media is both a threat and an opportunity. This applies to organisations, brands and employees alike.

Your social media profile can be more telling than a two page CV or an hour long interview ever can. Anyone thinking about hiring me might as well just read this blog and my Twitter feed.  It will tell you most of what you need to know to make a hiring decision and some more besides.

Get it right as a candidate, and social media can enhance your profile. It can support your personal brand.  It can also help you build a great community from which to learn, and introduce you to a whole new world of global connections. It could be the deciding factor between you and the other candidate.

But get it wrong and it’s a whole other ball game. There are horror stories everywhere about social media.  There are plenty of examples of a careless tweet or post that have got people fired, or even publically shamed.  Anyone remember Justine Sacco?

There’s no such thing anymore as old news. Yesterday’s fish and chip wrapping paper.  What happens on social stays on social.  The delete key solves nothing.

When it comes to social media there are few that will advocate its benefits more than me. Other than perhaps Tim Scott.  And as we said in our book on the subject (blatant self-promotion klaxon), when you are on social media platforms of any description, don’t be an arse.  There are few real rules, but there is plenty of etiquette.

Don’t tweet dumb stuff. Don’t argue with trolls.  Be a nice human.  If you happen to have some dubious views or isms then best to keep them to yourself.  Consider what is private and what is not.  Think before you post. Watch your language. Check our your employers policy on this stuff if they have one, to ensure you know what is and isn’t going to cause you any hassle. Tidy up the past if you need to.

Social media.  Threat or opportunity.  But either way… someone will be Googling.

When culture goes bad

I have been reflecting on the research published yesterday into sexual harassment in the workplace. My co-author Tim Scott recently shared his thoughts on the same research here.

The report, entitled ‘Still Just a Bit of Banter?’, makes horrific reading.  In 2016.  At all. I’ve blogged previously about the word banter.  It is a dangerous word.  It reduces and minimises and trivialises what horrors some people have to go through just to earn a living.

If you put the word ‘banter’ into a Thesaurus this is what you will find…… Teasing. Joking.  Wit.  Repartee.

Try this example from the report and see if any of those words sound even vaguely representative.

‘On my last day at work, my colleague told me that his biggest regret was that he didn’t get chance to rape me’.

Or this one.

In front of all his friends he groped my breasts’.

Banter this ain’t.

After reading this report, the questions that are running through my mind are these…..

How does an organisational culture get to this place?

How does this behaviour become part of the day to day?

How does this stuff happen in 2016?

Why, when harassment and offensive language, behaviour and so-called ‘banter’ takes place, do people stand by and watch it happen?

Because whilst some harassment goes on behind closed doors and out of sight, not all of it does. The report says so, and I know it for myself as someone who has both experienced it early in my career, and from dealing with it as a HR professional.

There is no one single answer to those questions I’m reflecting on.

It’s about what is permissible in an organisation. What is acceptable and tolerated.  It is about the behaviour of leaders and the message that sends.  It is about the extent to which it is safe to disagree and to challenge.

Another unrelated article makes a similar point.  The writer reflects on an organisation in which the C word, that most offensive of swear words, is so common place it has become barely noticeable to those that work there.

When you work in an organisation, especially for a long time, it is all too easy to fail to see what might be out of place or downright wrong within its culture. To see beyond what just happens around here and fail to ask if that is actually ok. To go with the flow.

Ask most people what they would do if they witnesses an act of harassment in the workplace and you will no doubt get a reassuring answer. They would report it.  They would help the person being harassed.  They would say something to the perpetrator.  But the evidence from this report, and indeed what we know about how our brains work, is that they don’t or won’t or can’t.

How does a culture go bad? In lots of ways.

Slowly. Incrementally.  One tiny step at a time.  Through poor leadership.  Through lack of challenge.  Through inertia.  Through simply not seeing.  The Ostrich effect.  The bystander effect.

Through all of the biases.

Culture is a boiling frog.

You have two choices when it comes to culture. You are either part of it, condoning or accepting.  Or you stand against it, for something else entirely.

And if we truly want to end harassment at work, then each of us need to stand up and be counted when the time comes.

IDGAF List. 

Recently I read ‘The life changing magic of not giving a f*ck’ by Sarah Knight. 

It recommends making a list of things that you don’t, erm give a f*ck about. Hence making you focus, stop doing these things or worrying about these things, and do something more interesting or pleasurable instead.

So I thought I would give it a go. And in no particular order, here it is. 

Hanging baskets.

Petrol prices.


The Kardashians.

The 5:2 diet. And the blood type diet. And the paleo diet. Etc.




Whether email should be banned or not.

Green tea.

Cleaning my house.


Dress codes / employee handbooks / getting people to sign HR policies [insert other organisational BS to suit]

Football generally.

Leeds United specifically. 

Data analytics.




The term ‘human capital management’ and anyone that uses it unless they do with extreme irony.

Conspiracy theories.


My Dad’s political opinions. 

The new Top Gear and whether it is any good or not.

Garden Centres.

Soap operas.

Larry Shippers.


People who complain about HR.

People who complain about their jobs / company / salary and do nothing about it.


Phone calls. Tweet me for goodness sake. What is it, 1994?

Who is going to be the next James Bond. Unless it’s like, Harry Styles. Obvs.


Being beach body ready.

Justin Bieber.

Lists on the internet. 5 things that [insert as applicable].

Anyone who thinks that Twitter is about people sharing what they had for breakfast.

What anyone thinks about how much I weigh.

What anyone thinks about my tattoos.

What anyone thinks about how much I go to the gym.


Whether anyone agrees with this list or not.


Ahhhhh…… That feels better. 


It’s 4am.

An unfamiliar city. A lonely, identikit hotel room.

All around is still and dark.

Wondering if I am the only one awake.

Looking out of the window, the city sleeps, even if I don’t.

Feeling disconnected and far from home.

But of course I’m not disconnected at all. Literally.  An internet connection is all that I need.

And there they are. My friends, my tribe. My cheerleading squad.  In my timeline.  Via DM.  On that inspirational Slack channel.

The geography and the time zone don’t matter.  Everyone and everything that I need is just a tweet or a gif away.

And I’m loving social media just a little bit more today.


I’ve had a couple of YOLO conversations lately.  Both virtual and IRL.

It might be an annoying acronym, but it is a familiar script for me.

It is my default position when I apply for a fitness event. That along with my favourite coaching question ‘what is the worst thing that than can happen?

There’s a reason for this. For much of my childhood my mother was ill with a condition that remained stubbornly undiagnosed.  Years and years of doctors and consultations and hospitals and treatments – of the traditional and distinctly alternative kind.  Five long miserable years.  And then, diagnosis, treatment, recovery.

And a new mind-set.

You only come this way once. My mother said this almost every day.  Often as a precursor to opening a bottle of wine or buying some expensive shoes if I am honest.  It imprinted upon me.

Cliché it may be. But true all the same.  All we really have is this moment.  Tomorrow is another day, but it is by no means guaranteed.  Too many recent events have taught us so.

On Saturday, I am taking part in an endurance event that, in truth, I’m not fit enough for. I’ll be one of the weakest and slowest in the field.  It involves water, something that I am frightened of.  Plenty of reasons to stay at home. But that direction leads to a life that is less than it really could be.

Live, laugh, love. Take risks.  Do all of the things that you always wanted to. Don’t wait.  Carpe that diem. Just do it.

Because, you know…. YOLO.

The imposter within

Lately, I’ve found myself talking often to folk about imposter syndrome.  I’ve been feeling it too. Don’t we all, from time to time?

If you are new to the term, then it’s all about the fear of being exposed. Of being thought a fraud. Of not deserving to be where you are.  It is the ‘what I am doing here, they are going to find me out any minute now’ brain tape.  One that often plays when we need it the least.

It is debilitating. Confidence zapping.

If you follow my fitness blog, you will know that I have been studying to become a personal trainer. Never before have I felt imposter syndrome so keenly.

Imagine this. There are ten people on the course including me.  Everyone else there is in the industry.  Has a long history of fitness.  They have done the event and got the t-shirt, and in a couple of cases were actually wearing it.

There were the two female body builders. The girl who had just left the army.  The woman who was an established fell runner.  A gymnast.  A Pilates teacher.  And me.  I’m the least fit person in the room.  Even at a size 10, I’m the biggest woman there by some distance.  We start the first day with a detailed discussion about advanced weight techniques.  And the tape starts to play.  What exactly am I doing in this room, with these people?  In a minute it will be my turn in the circle to answer a question and then everyone will know that I don’t belong here. 

It didn’t get any better. Our afternoon topic? Learning how to take body fat measurements.  On each other.  The old school way, with measuring tools.  Which involved stripping down to your sports bra and taking hold of each other’s fat.  If there is one thing guaranteed to kill your confidence it is standing next to a girl who has12% body fat whilst other people practice poking at yours.

And on and on the tape played.

An urge to run. Somewhere, anywhere.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I have talked to many people who find imposter syndrome crippling.  Because it gets in the way.  Because when I told someone this story they were surprised to find that I felt this way too.

From what I have read about imposter syndrome, many of those who suffer from it don’t realise that it’s not just them.  That it is a thing, not just their confidence and secret fears.

You don’t know when imposter syndrome is going to show up. I can stand in front of a room of several hundred people and talk about HR.  I can write a book and a blog and put my thoughts out into the world for anyone to see.  But in another context, in another place, I had to ride the wave of panic.  I had to persuade myself that I was okay. That I wasn’t suddenly going to get found out or exposed or kicked out or have an epic fail.

We can talk about leaning in or showing up with presence. We can talk about faking it till we make it.

But these are not always easy things to do. Not for everyone.

I’m just for recognising about it and talking about it.  As leaders, we can share when we have felt it and let others know that it isn’t all that unusual and it isn’t just them.  By recognising imposter syndrome for what it is, we can start to control it.

We can tell the imposter within that this time, we are not listening.

Stating the obvious?

But perhaps because the obvious still needs stating.

I’m at the CIPD Northern Area Partnership Conference listening to Sir Cary Cooper talking about wellbeing at work.  This is what he had to say:

 We have a problem with mental health and stress absence in the UK. Employees regularly go to work when they are sick – presenteeism is a major problem. 

A quality of life survey undertaken since 1997 showing people feel that their volume and pressure of work is increasing. 

Long hours culture. 75% of people work more than their contracted hours every week – excluding what we do on our smart phones. We work the longest hours in Europe. But long means ill. Long means family impact. 

Only 35% of employees are both healthy and present. What a miserable statistic. 

Excessive emailing – sometimes out of hours (whatever that means anymore). Some companies are banning it. Blocking it when you are on holiday. Limiting who you can cc.

Many managers don’t have the right social and interpersonal skills for this stuff. The most important relationship at work is the one with your boss. Bad managers should come with a health warning.  Bullying and aggressive management is a real problem. 

The pressure to be always on through technology adds to the unhealthy mix. 

My thoughts are these…

Don’t we know this stuff? Isn’t it obvious?  That working long hours makes us less productive.  That stress is bad for our health.  That mental health is a problem for many people in our organisations. That bad managers are deadly. 

It shouldn’t need research.  It shouldn’t need stating.  But yet it does.  But  yet there are cultures in which this stuff is hard wired.  Where sitting at your desk equals work.  Where emailing late at night is acceptable and where talking about mental health is not.  Where presenteeism is work like a badge of honour. Where crappy management is all too real. 

We know this stuff.  It isn’t a knowledge gap but a to-do gap in most organisations.  This is a culture thing, a line manager capability thing. And until we address that, really tackle it and call it out, we will keep on having the same old conference conversations.

Over to this thing about the pressure of emails, the pressure of technology.  I believe it’s a personal thing. For some, or more accurately perhaps I should say, for me, this doesn’t really present a problem.  Call it FOMO, call it habit, call it sad (I know some people do) but being in touch is just part of who I am.  Yes, I grab my phone the minute my alarm goes off in the morning.  More accurately, my phone is my alarm. And yes, I’m checking my notifications.  Over my breakfast I check all of my social media feeds.  Well, apart from LinkedIn of course.  Ain’t no one got time for that. I reply to messages, drop into a chat channel with some of my social media besties. No stress, no pressure.

I work for a global business.  While I am asleep my colleagues are working and emailing.  Once again, no stress or pressure felt. 

It is both personal and contextual. We rail against email, but someone commented to me recently that the thing they dislike most of all is a phone call, because it demands immediate attention rather that the email which can be responded to later. Demonising email is just focusing on symptoms not causes. 

Back to Cary… He asked the HR folk in the room: do people look forward to coming to work everyday? Or do they look for leaves on the line? 

Something to think about perhaps, at your place. 

Please forgive any typos this is a live blog!