You may not like it, but employers are looking at your social media profile to help decide if they want to hire you.
In 2020, Express Employment Professionals commissioned The Harris Poll to survey more than 1,000 hiring decision-makers in the U.S. about using social media to screen job applicants. Over 70% of respondents said that social media was an effective screening tool. Further, more than half of respondents said they didn’t hire a candidate based on content they’d found on their social media presence.
Of course, using social media to screen candidates raises concerns about bias, potentially opening employers up to scrutiny. To mitigate risk, companies turn to third-party background check providers to ensure they’re complying with all relevant privacy regulations. If you would like to learn more about how third-party social media background checks work, click this link.
With all that being said, now may be a good time to review your social media channels if you’re on the job hunt.
Here is some social media content you should re-consider.
Employers nowadays are more diligent about creating safe workspaces. They don’t want candidates who may create toxic environments for their co-workers. That means you should review any content that may be considered derogatory regarding race, sex, gender, age, etc.
Even if you think it’s just a harmless joke, you have to consider how other people may view it. Think about it this way: if you wouldn’t say it at the workplace, remove it from your profile.
Having a few pictures of you enjoying some wine with dinner or drinks on a patio with friends is fine. But if your profile looks like scenes from The Hangover, employers are going to see that as a red flag.
And it goes without saying that you shouldn’t have any content showing you consuming illegal drugs or engaging in illegal activities.
Sensitive Content About Former Employers, Colleagues, or Clients
If you’ve left an employer on bad terms, you may not feel bad about burning that bridge by criticizing them on social media. Likewise, maybe you had a falling out with some former colleagues or clients, and you feel like venting about it on social media. But any potential future employer who sees this will now think twice about hiring you.
You should also check to see if you have any confidential information posted about any former employers, colleagues, or clients as well.
Just like you should be careful what you share about your professional life, you should also be careful about your personal life. Nasty posts about bad relationships with friends, family, or former partners will reflect poorly on you. Again, no one wants to work with a toxic individual.
But Don’t Go Scorched Earth
At this point, you might feel like you need to delete all your profiles or lock everything up under the strictest privacy settings. But this isn’t necessarily a good idea either. Some employers believe that if you don’t have at least some online presence then you’re trying to hide something.
Don’t panic. You don’t have to completely overhaul all your social media channels to try and appear more professional.
An easy solution is to choose which channels you want to use to project your professional life and which ones should be more private. For example, LinkedIn is a great channel for job seekers. You can use that as a public profile for employers to search while other channels like Instagram are private.
Likewise, you can have multiple profiles on a channel. For example, you can link a professional profile to your personal Facebook. Make the former public and the latter private. Now you have the best of both worlds.
What Do You Want to Project?
Social media has blurred the line between public and private. It can feel like we’re only communicating with our friends and family, but it’s easy to forget that (unless you have strict privacy settings) anyone can see our posts.
Think of it like a massive public square where we all have microphones. We can all hear what each other is saying. So, the question is, what do you want to project? What version of yourself do you want to put out into the world?
But just because employers are reviewing your social media channels doesn’t mean you should self-censor. Maybe you have certain values that you feel strongly about and wish to communicate as clearly as possible.
After all, if an employer doesn’t want to hire you based on your values, do you want to work with that employer?
What you should take away from all this is just to be mindful about what you’re putting out there on social media.