Are employers right in using your social media presence as a determinant of hiring you? When you attend an interview, a seemingly bored interviwer may ask you if you are on social media. Some will go a step further and ask you if you have a website of your own. That is when you will know they are serious about what they are doing. You immediately start recalling the Instagram screenshots you uploaded last week of your ‘foolish’ neighbour’s unprotected WiFi.
Why organizations use social media in employee selection criteria
1. An organization’s online presence matters to them. Some allow their employees to openly display that they are working for them. In such a case, then they have a right to vet what incoming employees have been saying on social media.
2. Most employers do not want a previous brand killer working for them. If you are often in the business of bashing brands on social media, you might end up bringing wrath to your parent company unwillingly. Understand your denial of employment as a precautionary measure by the organization.
3. Did you ever work for the competitor? What did you say about us? Actually, organizations want to know everything you might have said about them previously. They may also be looking at whether you support the social causes that they stand for. It thus becomes highly unlikely to be hired to work for an organization that deals in environmental conservation if you have never shared something about the environment.
4. Political statements that you may have issued on social media. Corporate entities do not want to be entangled in political webs. Are you outspoken in political matters?
The most common things that employers look at in the social media posting of employees start with drug use and abuse. Inappropriate postings such as nudity and pornography follow. Communication skills are also evaluated. At the bottom of the list is criminal behaviour and leaking of confidential employer information.
How employers can go about it
Organizations do not have to make social media a do-or-die endeavour for new, or existing, employees. In the first two reasons we gave above, caution the incoming employee and let them know about your organization’s social media policy.
Social media as an employment selection factor has not gained mainstream use. However, it is increasingly being used as a determinant and possibly as an elimination factor. Leniency is advised. If the organization is heavily dependent on social media, more weight can be given to social media as a factor in hiring or firing employees.
Reason number 3 presents a challenge. Do you want a former brand basher working for you now?
How to hide
Ha ha. 🙂 When the s**t hits the fan, you may want to hide from your prospective employers. The best measure is to ensure you do not vent on social media. Ignore trolls today for you to get the job tomorrow. Keep your social media, and online presence, clean and free of stuff that might come back to haunt you in future.
Cleaning your accounts may be necessary. Learn how to use random-word searches using wildcards. You will be able to see what others see and delete it. Most social media platforms allow you to delete what you posted earlier. I think they are learning that sometimes we regret our sins.
If you cannot clear what you think might hurt your chances with the new employer on time, just delete the account and hope your employer cannot access tools to retrieve archived information on the internet.