Everyone you know has social media profiles and uses them differently. For example, while some people prefer to post only photos of their pets, others might post photos of friends and family at parties. While your social media page can be an extension of your life, there are sometimes when social media does more harm than good.
When posting on social media, it’s always best to be careful; you don’t want to offend friends or family with obscene posts. However, you should also be careful about what you’re posting if you’re looking for a job. Many employers look at social media as a way to learn about candidates and decide if they’re right for the job.
Ultimately, social media can affect how you get your job. In many cases, it can be the reason why you don’t get a job, and your prospective employer doesn’t have any legal obligation to tell you why you weren’t chosen.
Your potential employer going through your social media profiles
Additionally, there are no employment laws preventing employers from deciding on whether to hire you based on your social media posts. Whether you’re a website builder who works in marketing or an executive working in business development, social media can affect everyone’s chances of landing their dream jobs. Here are the ways social media can harm your job search.
You don’t want your Tweets or social networking habits to impact how you are seen by a potential employer. And you better believe that hiring managers review the social media accounts of job seekers before setting up an interview.
Social media sites are fun, but you should always be thinking about your next job. Limiting your potential job opportunities is like shooting yourself in the foot.
You should never try to say disrespectful things, especially publicly. Employers may view your social media post history to look for behavioural red flags, such as aggressive behaviour, illegal information, gossip, and even bullying. Additionally, you may have once posted something you no longer believe or posted a mean comment about someone when you were angry.
To improve your chances of getting a job, it’s always best to make sure your past mistakes can’t come back to haunt you. Go through your posts from the last couple of years before you start applying for jobs. It’s also a good idea to check on any old social media platforms you no longer use to ensure your high school self can’t come back to ruin your career.
Hiring Managers Vs Job Seekers
Job candidates work hard to make it all the way through the hiring process. Job hunting is by no means easy. But human resources work isn’t easy either. HR wants to make sure that you will fit into the company culture, and that you won’t leak confidential information if hired.
Some things that HR will consider when looking at your online presence:
- Were you smart about your privacy settings?
- Do you use profanity on your social media?
- Do you have communication skills?
- Have you spoken poorly about your previous employers?
- Are there signs of drug use?
The conversations you have with your friends privately are one thing, but posting controversial jokes online can put you in hot water and prevent you from receiving an employment contract. Even if you didn’t create the joke and you’re simply sharing a video you found online, it can be a red flag for employers. Making jokes or engaging in controversial behaviour can be off-putting to future employers who might view you as someone who could bring those jokes into the office and offend people.
Even if you don’t mean to offend someone, your posts can still be offensive if someone doesn’t understand the joke. In addition, what you say online can be seen by more than just your friends and family who know your true personality, so it’s best to delete controversial jokes about religion or politics that can prevent you from landing a job.
Complaining About Employers
Many people complain about work to friends and family, and there’s nothing wrong with venting your frustration. However, it’s usually best to vent only to friends and family and not air any grievances with your employer or past employers online. Whether you were terminated without cause or you quit your job due to poor management, the public doesn’t need to know about it.
Badmouthing your past employers will make recruiters or future bosses believe that you criticize companies rather than find solutions. No employer wants to know how much you dislike your old boss or why, so it’s best to keep your reasons for looking for a new job off social media.
Bad Personal Branding
Social media is the place where you can create your own unique brand. Your future employer might look at your profile to learn more about the type of person you are outside of work. Even if you have a glowing resume, employers can be put off by the types of photos you post online.
If your employer sees you partying in most of your photos, they might believe you aren’t serious about having a career. Additionally, being overly negative can make it seem like you would complain at work rather than get the job done. Bad personal branding isn’t something most people worry about when posting about their day on social media, but employers will check out your profiles to learn more about the type of person you are.
Not Having Social Media
Employers expect candidates to have social media profiles. While you might not need an Instagram to get a job, many companies like to know that candidates have LinkedIn profiles to learn more about them, their previous roles, and where they’ve worked. Believe it or not, not having a social presence can harm your chances of landing a job because it might make employers believe you’re someone who hides who you truly are.
Additionally, not having any social media profiles can prevent your employer from learning about the great person you are.
Some social media places where HR might look:
- Other less known social networking sites and forums
Can Social Media Get Me Fired?
We’ve just discussed that social media can prevent you from landing a job, but it can also get you fired from one. The U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech, so many people believe they can do and say whatever they want on social media without consequences.
However, employment in the U.S. is at will, which means the employer can fire you for any reason, and you can leave your job for any reason. Many employers may choose not to tell you why you’re being fired, so you may never know if it’s due to social media. Other countries, such as Canada, do not provide at-will employment, which means employers should tell employees why they’re being let go.
That being said, you can be fired for what you post on social media because it can reflect poorly on the company. You can especially be fired for posting negative comments about the company, even if they’re justified.
Don’t Let Social Media Become a Liability
When it comes to your job application, you want HR to be thinking about your work experience and setting up a job interview. You don’t want them to be concerned about your social media activity. Make it easy for them to make you a job offer! Regulate your social media presence.
Social media is a great tool that allows you to connect with others, but it can damage your career. Before you start searching for a new job, consider scrubbing your old social media posts for things others might find offensive or will portray you in a negative light. Employers use social media to get to know candidates before scheduling interviews, so it’s always best to ensure you’re putting your best face forward.
Author: Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com.