We’ve all heard stories about how social media activity has resulted in people losing their jobs. From the discovery of risque pictures on a teacher’s Facebook profile, to complaining about your boss on Twitter, there are a number of ways that social media can impact your career with a specific employer. But your social media activity isn’t just about being careful because your boss friended you anymore, as your online antics are being investigated by potential employers too. Before you are hired, you might be searched online — and what comes up in a public search could mean the difference between being hired and moving on to the next job interview.
What Could Jeopardize Your Career?
A recent article by Jennifer Preston in the New York Times looks into the practice of running a social media background check as part of the hiring process. Some of the things that could get you in trouble as prospective employers search the Internet for information about you include:
- Racist or sexist remarks.
- Sexually explicit or risque photos.
- Complaints about bosses or coworkers.
- Pictures including prominent displays of weapons.
- Evidence of participation in illegal activities.
- Images of you in compromising situations, including photos of you partying hard and clearly drunk.
Hiring managers aren’t supposed to use social media searches to make hires based on age, religion, disability, race, and gender, though. However, there are some concerns that searching the Internet for general information about a potential hire could lead to inadvertent discrimination based on characteristics that, by law, should not be considered as part of the hiring process.
Many of us don’t stop and think about what our social media activity could do to our careers. However, it’s important to consider this reality. The New York Times article points out that some companies providing social media background checks for employers don’t just limit their information gathering to the major sites like Facebook and Twitter. What you post on Tumblr, bulletin boards, Craigslist and your blog could be looked over. No social media outlet is too obscure when it comes to evaluating you based on what’s publicly available online.
Protecting Your Earning Power: Be Smart Online
In order to protect your earning power, it is important that you practice discretion in what you post to social media — and online in general. Your social media antics, while they might seem amusing at the time, could cost you a promotion, a raise, or even your job. This means that it is vital you think before you post. Before you hit “submit,” consider what you are doing. Think about the consequences of your post — especially the images you share online. Even if you think it would be fun to post pictures from your wild college days, it might not be the best idea.
Employers have more and more information available now to help them decide whether or not you are the kind of person they want working for them. From credit report checks to social media background checks, there is a great deal of data available to employers. If you want the best chance, you need to be aware of your publicly available remarks and exploits.