Is your social media activity affecting your job prospects?

Is your social media activity affecting your job prospects?
Having a social media presence is a bit like staring in your own, self-directed, self-promoted ‘bragathon’ TV show. For the most part, its fun trying to keep up with the Kardashians, posting the perfect selfie, portraying a fun-filled, enviable lifestyle. Some of us prefer to go all political, non-conformist, adopt a bit of s**t stirring, enjoy some Boris Belting, Trump Trashing or just happily vent all our frustrations on life itself. But who's watching us and our antics, are we getting five-star reviews or a thumbs down with sad/angry emoji responses?

Social media is fast becoming a key, go to, consideration for employers within the hiring process. So whilst you may be a big believer in your right to free speech or being a non-conformist, the reality is, unless you use a pseudonym, most of us can be easily identified online. What you feel may be “nobody else’s business” suddenly becomes someone's business. It sounds obvious, but if you make something publicly available on any site, then anyone can see it. Sure your account may be private and available to a select few, but a quick screengrab and control is lost along with your reputation. 

In 2018, CareerBuilders Recruitment Survey identified 70 per cent of hiring managers were using social media accounts as a screening tool. When it comes to employers eliminating a person as a job contender, 57 per cent passed over candidates after reviewing content that caused them concern. 

So what are the red flags prospective employers generally look for online? Inappropriate or provocative content, posts about using drugs or drinking and discriminatory comments. Also, grammatical or spelling errors can raise a red flag. 

Companies are utilising Artificial Intelligence in this space with the likes of IBM’s Watson Personality Insights service enabling software applications to derive insights from individuals social media postings. As these solutions become more mainstream and accessible, the more they will become a standard check within the hiring process.

After you are hired, don’t think the scrutiny stops. 48 per cent of employers continue to monitor employees’ social media activity not to mention your curious colleagues who want to know everything about the newest arrival. The nice to meet you chit chat in the staff canteen is nothing near or as juicy to what a quick online search can reveal in 2 minutes.

Before you go and delete your social media account in despair...wait!....There's the flip side to all this sharing and here it is... The absence of a positive online presence can raise questions no matter how innocent the reason. The CareerBuilder Recruitment Survey found that 43 per cent of employers hired someone as a result of seeing something posted in relation to professional qualifications to favourable attributes. 

A well balanced social media profile can differentiate you from the herd, showcase your skills, networks and interests, along with demonstrating the fact that you’re really savvy with social media. The CareerBuilder study also found that 50 per cent of prospective employers want to ensure the candidate has a professional online persona and 34 per cent want to see what other people are posting about the candidate. So what if your social media accounts have some questionable content? Cleaning up your social media profiles is important at the start of your career with prudent consideration for all postings thereafter. 

So less, maybe of the pictures of questionable clothing, afternoon party updates, off your trolley poses or expressing strong controversial views whilst not in full control of your faculties.

In reality, most employers aren't scouring the internet looking for reasons not to hire you but its best not to give them any excuse not too.