Finance professionals who rely on social networks when applying for new jobs are falling prey to the pitfalls of social media, despite being more aware of these limitations than other industries, according to new research from global specialist employment recruiter Randstad Financial & Professional.

More than a quarter of Finance workers (26%) recognise that inappropriate images pose a potential threat to career changes, while 25% also cited offensive/contentious posts as a worry, compared to just 25% and 24% of UK workers respectively.

A fifth (20%) worried about bad grammar/spelling, while 22% were concerned about being caught ‘pulling a sickie’, compared to just 16% of UK workers in both cases.

However, only 8% of Finance workers recognised having an outdated LinkedIn profile as a potential problem.

Which of the following social media pitfalls would you consider to be a threat to your future career?

  • Inappropriate pictures: [a] 26%, [b] 25%
  • Offensive/contentious posts: [a] 25%, [b] 24%
  • Bad grammar/spelling: [a] 20%, [b] 16%
  • Being caught ‘pulling a sickie’: [a] 22%, [b] 16%
  • Outdated LinkedIn profile: [a] 8%, [b] 5%
  • Not having enough social media presence: [a] 10%, [b] 6%
  • None of these: [a] 40%, [b] 58%

[a] Percentage of Finance workers, [b] Percentage of UK workers 

Additionally, half of Finance workers (50%) doubt they would have been hired if an employer had access to all their social media content. A total of 17% of Finance workers were certain they wouldn’t have been hired if they hadn’t altered their social media privacy settings beforehand, and a further third (33%) were unsure whether they would have still got the job.

Tara Ricks, MD Randstad Financial & Professional, comments: “Our high-flying Finance workers are increasingly aware of the dangers an unfiltered social media profile can pose, as high profile examples of social media misusers falling from grace come to light. Most recently, the MP Emily Thornberry stepped down from her position following a controversial Twitter post about a white van – and this is just one example of many. 

“However, while most workers are aware of more obvious mistakes like posting offensive comments or pictures, most are oblivious to the dangers of overly relying on social media platforms. Keeping an up-to-date social media profile should be part of every job-hunter’s strategy, but it’s not the be-all and end-all, and needs to be complemented by tailored applications too.”

Finance professionals held back by social media

Seven out of 10 Finance workers (71%) don’t bother updating their LinkedIn page when applying for a new role, leaving unnecessary skills and irrelevant information open for future employers to review – potentially putting them off.

A fifth (20%) of Finance employees don’t revise either their LinkedIn or their CV – less than the average figure across UK workers (34%) but highlighting the still large proportion of  Finance job-switchers who are behind the times with job applications.

Do you tailor your CV and your LinkedIn profile when applying for a new job?

Percentage of Finance workers:

  • I tailor my CV only: 49%
  • I tailor both my CV and my LinkedIn profile: 9%
  • I don’t tailor either: 20%
  • I tailor my LinkedIn profile only: 22%

At the same time, over two-thirds (71%) of Finance workers said they would investigate future candidates on social media before offering them a position.

Tara Ricks concludes: “In the competitive world of Finance, most companies use the internet as an additional filter to sort out the best candidates – before sending out invitations to interview. A CV and covering letter allows for a personal touch with each different job application, but it’s impossible to echo this on LinkedIn, which is more of a one-size-fits-all tool. And applicants with an overcrowded LinkedIn page run the risk of diluting their relevant experience with unnecessary work examples.  

“The savviest approach is to leave your LinkedIn functional but basic, to avoid the trap of including irrelevant detail. Cramming your LinkedIn page with your entire career history is not only a waste of time, it can be counter-productive too. Recruiters can help to trim the fat from your application, making sure it is as relevant as possible to the advertised role – all the more important as companies become more ruthless with their selection processes.”