Newsflash: Nothing you do on social media is private!
We’ve known this since the early days when the careers of Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber launched and we were privy to way too much, way too often.
We pretend it’s not true, but we can’t pretend any longer because for us common-folk, the stakes can be really high. Your social media presence could get you fired or keep you from getting the job you want.
It may be that in the 1980s Steve Jobs gave the singer, Rockwell, a sneak peek into the iPhone and it inspired his ode “Somebody’s Watching Me”. Because today, yes, everyone and everything is watching you.
Whether you’re doing anything worth watching is in the eye of the beholder, and today there are people paid to behold you.
If you’re not online, you don’t exist. But don’t be too out there.
Between February 16 and March 9, 2017, Harris Poll conducted an online survey on behalf of CareerBuilder. The results surprised even me, someone who lives online and who used to do background checks on people.
According to the survey:
- 57% of employers are less likely to hire a job candidate they can’t find online.
- 54% have chosen not to hire a job candidate because of their online presence.
- 70% of employers use an online screening process to vet job candidates.
The takeaway is that it’s becoming more important to have an online presence and it’s even more important to manage that online presence well.
Be Social, behave yourself, and be smart.
You may not be as bad as The Tinkler or Mr. Chocolate, but these funny yet unfortunate social media blunders aren’t the only examples of why you might not land that next job.
Posts and pictures with drugs and sexual references certainly won’t help you become gainfully employed. What you may not know is that two-thirds of employers polled by Jobvite in 2014 said that job candidates with posts that include profanity, guns and alcohol might make them consider someone else.
Even more surprising is that while 44% of employers said posts about alcohol were concerning, 66% were concerned about poor spelling and poor grammar in social media posts.
What can you do?
Be secure, not sneaky.
The answer to the social media screening process is not to have no social media presence (double-negative intended, future boss) and it’s not to lock down your social media presence like Ft. Knox.
The best way to manage your online life is to set up all your social media accounts, except LinkedIn, as private as possible. Then, create a professional, well-managed, and public LinkedIn profile and make it so amazing they can’t ignore you. This way, prospective employers can find you, and they find what you want them to find.
Vegas rules don’t apply.
The internet isn’t like Vegas. Hell, even Vegas isn’t like Vegas.
Anything you do online can easily go public no matter how private your settings. People like to share on social media. They like to do screen shots to make edits or to share on different platforms. So, if you told the boss that you’re home with the flu, avoid having pictures taken of you lying by the pool.
Remember, too, as many a newbie celebrity farther back than Madonna and Playboy has learned, that if ever someone can make money off of you, they’ll probably try! So, in the way, distant future when you may be a big name for yourself, that thing you thought no one would know – won’t be found out because you didn’t do it.
If you don’t have anything nice to say…
…then, don’t say it at all. This rule is like The Golden Rules’ slightly silver sister. In an age when even the slightest off-color remark can get someone fired from a job or treated like a pariah, don’t say anything negative about anyone, ever.
You may feel justified bashing this politician or that public figure and they probably deserve it. However, the person who may be able to get you the job you want may like that politician or that public figure and you may have just strained your relationship with them, if it ever existed. There are people paid to criticize people. If you’re not one, let them fight the good fight on your behalf.
Remember your grandmother.
Or, your mom. Or, Jesus. Or, whoever’s opinion you most cherish. Before doing, sharing, or saying something on social media, first consider what this most important person might think before going through with your plan.
If you’d feel embarrassed if they saw or read your brazen post or share, then a prospective employer might see it as a reason to not hire you or worse, “like” you.
For some reason, it’s easy to forget that on social media the whole world may be watching. What we think is private, funny, cool or justified may not be in that beholder’s eye. Until that day when you no longer need or want a job, keep that in mind.