Can Being Ourselves on Social Media Damage Our Careers | Reflections
Over 70 per cent of employers use social media to determine whether or not to offer someone an interview or a job
According to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, 70 per cent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring them. With this figure so high can we truly be ourselves on social media? Or is this the equivalent of our digital avatars going for an interview.
You wouldn’t turn up to an interview drunk, covered in face paint or taking a risque selfie with a waxwork at Madame Tussaud’s. But, sometimes, these photos and videos are on our social media for everyone to see. Sometimes they even go viral and become a part of the social culture for a time.
With over 70 per cent of employers using social media to determine whether or not to offer someone an interview or a job, do we need to our tailor our online selves for the sake of our future careers?
If so what does the ideal candidate’s social media like?
Are they looking for happy-go-lucky photos of family events and celebrations? Or is this too boring and same-old for companies with an exciting and spontaneous ethic?
Will lots of travel photos put employees off and suggest that the candidate is only looking for a short-term career before their next adventure? Or will it appeal to a companies enterprising streak?
With those silly photos, I took of me getting my hair dyed by my best friend, or dressing up as Alice in Wonderland for a Halloween party make me look like a fun, creative person or someone slightly childish? I’ve yet to be asked, but I have got most of my jobs because of my use of social media.
As a writer and someone with a blog, I use social media to promote my own kind of self-brand.
I use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to put my views out there as well as some of my personal social life. But my personal life involves topics such as mental health and family members with long-term illnesses. To some companies, both of these topics might be a red flag, but they’re there on the internet for them to openly see.
If these are a red flag to a company then they are discriminating against me, but there are no unequivocal regulations to monitor this and it is easy for people to discriminate.
I’ve been lucky in the respect that my use of social media has aided my career. What with my basic knowledge of coding, design and creativity, but equally it could have been held against me.
Also, does the fact that our potential employees are most likely looking at our social media more closely than they’re looking at our CVs encourages us to project a #FakeLife on our social media? And does this, in turn, affect our mental health and therefore create a potential reason for employees to discriminate against us? It’s a fine line and one that we all walk daily.
You can be forgiven for having a silly photo in the depths of your Facebook albums but maybe not when it’s your profile picture. If you talk or write about topics that are taboo or potentially inflammatory on Twitter, such as tweets on menstruation, mental health or politics, you have to do so in a non-aggressive and politic way otherwise risk your chance of an interview, or even losing your job. Look at James Gunn, the recently fired director of Guardians of the Galaxy, as an example of the easy public translation of inappropriate tweets.
All these thoughts go through my head as I realise my social media platforms are becoming more important than my actual CV.
After all, an employer can learn a lot more about what a person is really like from their social media than they can from a double-sided piece of paper.
However, there are positive outcomes of social media if someone has curated an impressive Instagram then they might be perfect for a creative role, and if their Twitter is witty and getting engagement then marketing and networking might be excellent skills of theirs.
It’s a catch-22 situation when it comes to what we post and what we don’t post on social media. Whilst it’s common knowledge that we’re going to be stalked occasionally by potential employers, exes and old school-mates over time, because of this inevitable stalking we have to consider what image our social media portrays of us.
Just like we reevaluate our physical selves every now and then, deciding whether or not we want to be kinder or healthier or less opinionated, we have to do the same for our digital selves. If we don’t we risk a lot more than digital alienation.