How important is your social media activity and what impact can it have on your career prospects? The experts argue – a lot!
According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70 per cent of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and about 43 per cent of employers use social media to check on current employees.
Social media accounts are something that you should manage carefully and respectfully. Anything inappropriate, controversial or abusive should not be seen on your personal Facebook accounts due to the risk of airline’s and prospect employers searching for you and judging you based on your online activity.
What should I be doing (and not doing)?
Employers are not searching for specific negatives on your social media, but researchers say that people have failed to secure a job (after a successful interview), due to a ‘social screening’ and things have been found.
The following list features the most common types of posts and online behaviour that left a negative impression on employers:
1. Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information
2. Information about them drinking or using drugs
3. Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion
4. Links to criminal behaviour
5. Lies about qualifications
6. Poor communication skills
7. Bad-mouthing a previous company or fellow employee
8. Unprofessional screen name
9. Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employers
10. Job candidate lied about an absence
[Source: 2018 CareerBuilder survey]
To see some interesting and educational, examples of social media fails, simply search that term: ‘Social media fails’.
My social media should be private - right?
Right. But it isn't. Whilst your social media account is personal to you, it is not private from the rest of the world. You can of course, employ tactics to maintain your privacy using the following safeguards:
- Edit your privacy settings so that what you post is only visible to friends or family
- Edit your settings so that browsers cannot search for you successful using your email address
- Edit your screen or account name so it’s not directly linked with your actual name
- Remove selfies from your profile.
Reviewing your privacy settings is generally a good idea but not the solution, nor infallible. The alternative is much simpler: Just as with the old saying ‘think before you speak’, it is wise to observe the following discipline ‘think before you post’.
- What would someone who has not met me, think when they only see this post?
- Is this post/share necessary?
- Is there an alternative way I can share this view or opinion without the need for social media?
- What could a misinterpretation of this post, comment, like or share cost me?
Being safe and staying safe
Securing the job does not mean that you should relax your high social media standards and vigilance. Review your employee handbook and rules closely. Many employers have a social media and professional conduct policy in place, and you need to be mindful of observing what is expected of you.
Employers do complete ad hoc screenings on their employees, which could lead to a disciplinary or your contract or (worst case), being fired.
So in a nutshell, it is wise to observe the following best practice protocols:
- Become familiar with the privacy policies of the social media channels you use and customize your privacy settings to control who sees what.
- Protect your computer by installing antivirus software to safeguard. Ensure that your browser, operating system, and software are kept up to date.
- Set up your security answers. This option is available for most social media sites.
- Use a strong password (to prevent yourself getting hacked) The longer it and more complicated it is, the more secure it will be.
- Use a different password for each of your social media accounts.
- If you have social media apps on your phone, be sure to password protect your device.
- Be selective with friend requests, just as with your ‘real world’ friends, be mindful of the company you keep, and how a ‘friends’ online behaviour may reflect on you. If you do not know the person, do not accept their request. It could be a fake account.
- Click links with caution. Social media accounts are regularly hacked. Look out for language or content that does not sound like something your friend would post.
- Be careful about what you share. Do not reveal sensitive personal information.
- Remember to log off when you are done.
- This is an obvious one, but be mindful of the images you share (even privately through DMs), and how they may reflect upon you if they were misused.
- Be mindful of your screen name, and decide whether you want the name or your profile images easily traced back to you.
- Ask yourself whether you really need social media in your life at all.