This is the age of social media. With people all over the world broadcasting each thought and event, no matter how big or small, on social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In (to name only a few), it’s no surprise that social media is now a major part of the job application process.
With an average of 58 billion tweets each day, 640 million minutes spent on Facebook each month and over 277 million active Linked In profiles, social media is providing employers with an in depth look into the lives of prospective employees. As if this part of the ‘Big Brother’ style world we’ve created for ourselves wasn’t concerning enough (no one really wants their manager to see photographic evidence of a debauched night out), social media is now a deciding factor in hiring and firing.
In a 2011 study conducted by Lab42 and Reppler, it was found that 91% of employers used Twitter, Facebook and Linked In to screen job applicants, 47% as soon as they received their application. Of these employers, a substantial 69% revealed that they’d discounted a candidate based on their findings. There were a multitude of reasons for this including inappropriate photographs, derogatory comments and even lying about qualifications. Yet, do employers really have a right to discount employees based on an internet profile?
Everyone has said something they’ve regretted, that’s hurtful or inappropriate or even offensive; the only difference now is that we broadcast these feelings for the whole world to see, often without thinking of the consequences. Once that send button has been pressed, there’s no retracting it. Is it even the business of employers to snoop about in the personal lives of their employees? If an employee will be industrious and cooperative in the office, then does it matter how they will conduct their lives after closing time? In a study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology by North Carolina University, it was revealed that most candidates, even if they are given the job, find the hiring process unfair and invasive if they discover that their employer screened their social media.
Social media, however, can have its advantages. By ensuring that personal accounts have stringent security settings, candidates can make sure that potential employers see only what you want them to see. A tactically created and maintained social media profile then becomes your greatest weapon. You can demonstrate yourself to be well-rounded and creative with top communication skills. By showing work history, qualifications and achievements as well as active roles within appropriate groups and forums, you can create the image of the perfect employee. With many companies now having their own social media strategies, a good awareness of how to effectively manage and monitor your own social media can be a big attraction for employers.
Social media can be a hindrance to jobseekers, but with a strong awareness of what employers do and don’t like, it can also be your golden ticket through the door.