Social media has permeated almost every aspect of modern life, and that includes job searching and the hiring process. While not nearly as common even 10 years ago, today approximately 70 percent of hiring managers search the social media of job applicants. Sometimes that can work in your favor, but sometimes it can backfire spectacularly, leading you to lose out on a great employment opportunity.
People have become more social media savvy over time, and there is more awareness now than ever about what your online presence says about you and just how little privacy you have in that space. But it’s more than just worrying that your great aunt might see photos of you from a college party—a potential employer can scroll through your whole high school and college career in a few minutes, and find out a lot about you in the process. Before even interviewing you in person, a recruiter can see if you’ve posted inappropriate photos, discriminatory comments, or badmouthed previous employers.
While it’s easy to see how those might disqualify you from being hired, there are other, less obvious, things that might take you out of the running for a job. Are you posting too frequently? Do you post during working hours? Is it obvious you lied about your qualifications? Do you have atrocious spelling? On the surface it might seem like some of those are none of an employer’s business, but if there is a good pool of qualified candidates for a job opening, even a small thing can turn the tide away from hiring you. The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure your social media presence showcases good judgment and discretion.
The downsides of a public social media profile are clear to see, but there are upsides as well. If your feeds are full of carefully curated posts that showcase your creativity, intelligence, curiosity, and professionalism, it can basically act as a great secondary interview. Depending on the type of job you’re interested in, a social media presence can advertise photography prowess, knowledge of an industry, creative writing ability, or good communication skills. And no matter where you want to be hired, if your voice on social media conveys that you’re an intelligent, well-informed, and responsible person with discretion, you may have a leg up on the competition.
Social media is here to stay, and it’s important to treat it as a window into your life that anyone can see, including employers. If you think your social media accounts might be problematic, you can delete them or make them private during a period of job searching, even if it’s just so you can keep your political arguments with your uncle off the radar. Know that employers have good reason to want to hire people who are circumspect, and don’t want to expose themselves to the risk that comes with problematic employees. The best solution is to make sure you use good judgment about what you put out onto the internet about yourself. Your future self will thank you