Nowadays most people are on the social media treadmill. We turn to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to get our daily fix of news and information. Millions of us post updates and pictures on our own personal social media pages; a night out, recent holiday, family get together or perhaps a work event, but how many of us think about the consequences this may have on our career and future employment opportunities?
It’s no secret, our private lives are no longer private. Hirers have the ability to search online in order to conduct a background check on potential employees. We leave a digital footprint with every social media interaction that we make.
A national survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Career Builder between 10th February – 17th March 2016 sampled 2,186 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,031 full time workers in the private sector across industry and company sizes. It found that 60% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 52% last year and 11% in 2006. Online content that put employers off included inappropriate photos, videos or information (46%), information about candidates drinking or using drugs (43%), discriminatory comments (33%), bad mouthing previous companies or fellow employees (31%) and poor communication skills (29%).
Of course we treat each social media platform differently and are likely to post different content on Facebook to what we might post on a more corporate feel social networking site such as LinkedIn, but it is important to bear in mind our use of social media and the effect it may have on our career opportunities. Employers will be looking to see if a candidate fits in with their company culture and by looking at our social media profiles, potential hirers can gain a valuable insight into our personality and the way we conduct ourselves. Candidates should ask themselves the following questions; Am I happy with the image my social media profile portrays? Do I have any photos that give a bad first impression? Do I have any inappropriate comments on any of my accounts? What will a potential employer find if they google my name?
Social media can be used to our advantage if we understand and control the digital footprint that we leave behind (sites like LinkedIn are proving to be a particularly useful career tool). However do be careful: something that may feel like a bit of fun at the time might not be so amusing later. By all means enjoy using social media but make sure it’s a positive experience for you in the long run both personally and professionally.