A report called ‘Social Media in the Workplace’ was produced in the last week by a leading Law firm, William Fry, which made national headlines. The report highlighted that 80% of employees spend almost an hour of their working day on social media sites. This will no doubt have employers throughout the country on high alert and possibly reviewing their social media policies within the work place.
Although social media can be a major distraction within the work place, it is increasingly becoming one of the most useful tools for job seekers, provided it is used in the right way. There is another side to this, Careerbuilders.com recently conducted a survey of 2,303 hiring managers and HR professionals and 37% confessed to using social media sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter to screen potential employees. The main reasons given for doing so included:
- Learn more about his or her qualifications and experience
- See if the person is a good fit for the company’s culture
- See how the person presents themselves
Out of those 37%, a whopping 38% admitted that their findings influenced their decision not to hire. This is quite a high number but is something which is easily avoided if you manage your social media accounts in an appropriate manner. It is worth bearing in mind that if a potential employer goes to the trouble of checking your accounts, then there is obviously an interest in your CV, so to miss out on an interview or even an offer due to something inappropriate you said or did on social media would be a real shame. Even though an employer should not judge you based on this content, human nature and curiosity can sometimes lead to a higher degree of scrutiny which unfortunately can have a negative effect on your job search.
Below I have highlighted a number of suggestions on how to manage your Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin accounts either when job hunting or while in a job.
Do not misrepresent your experience or qualifications. This will be the main reason any potential employer will check your linkedin page. Any differences between your CV and Linkedin profile will put your honesty into question straight away.
Try and chose a professional profile picture. This does not have to be a picture of you fully suited, but it certainly should not be one of you on a night out with a pint in your hand or with a silly facial expression. Remember this picture could well be the first introduction between you and your new employer, so it needs to make a good impression.
Facebook is a social media channel which should be personal, so make sure all of your security settings are activated. Only close friends and people who you are connected with should be able to view your personal photos or read comments left on your page.
Make a conscious decision not to post any comments, pictures or join groups that you would not like your current or future employer to see, even if you have all your security settings in place. You just cannot be sure who will end up seeing them, so it’s better being safe than sorry.
Sacked for Facebook Drinking
One story which springs to mind is of a high school teacher, Ashley Payne, in the US who posted pictures of her drinking on holidays and left comments with expletives in it. This was against school policy as it appeared she was promoting alcohol. However, she was sure no one would see them as she had all her security settings in place. On her return, she discovered that the principle had seen the comments and photos through a friend and she was sacked.
Twitter is an informal social media channel which is completely public for anyone to view. Unlike Facebook and Linkedin you don’t need to accept people’s invitation to allow them to view your news feed and pictures so be aware of this. There are a lot of fake/inappropriate Twitter profiles that may follow you so make sure you don’t follow them back and block them instead.
Be very careful of the tweets you write as they may come back to haunt you. Some people forget that whatever you put on the internet is fair game for people to use and judge you over. There has begun a slight craze on Twitter that people gang together using hashtag’s to publicly rant, condemn and bully others. However, this can easily be traced back to the culprits.
Sacked for Tweeting
One specific incident that highlights this is of Paris Brown who recently had to stand down as Britain’s first youth crime commissioner because comments she had tweeted 2 years’ beforehand had been very inappropriate.
Much of the above may seem pretty obvious to most people, but if I asked everyone to check their own accounts, you would be surprised to find how many are completely accessible to the world. The screening of social media accounts by potential employers may seem like an invasion of privacy, but it is something that unfortunately can happen despite being preventable by just a few clicks!
So what are your thoughts on social media in the work place?