If you are like most people today, you use at least one (if not more) social media site on a daily basis. In fact, it is estimated that at least 75% of internet users use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn…and the list goes on and on.
Like most off-duty conduct, social media posts fall into a legal gray area. Our advice for job seekers: Err on the side of caution. The current legal trend suggests that users should have a lower expectation of privacy when using these sites. It’s a good idea to think twice when posting material that may put you in an unflattering light. If you wouldn’t want that picture from last weekend’s party posted on the front page of the newspaper, then perhaps you shouldn’t post it on your Facebook page. Always ensure that your privacy settings are up-to-date.
However, if used wisely social media can be a fantastic way to promote yourself to potential employers. Thoughtfully crafted tweets that reflect a deeper interest in the type of position you are seeking can give you an edge up on other candidates. A carefully constructed LinkedIn profile has the potential to reach a large number of hiring managers. Writing a concise profile summary–including testimonials from previous co-workers and employers–and keeping it up-to-date are critical in attracting prospective employers. Tapping into your circle of Facebook friends can help you network and gain referrals.
The beauty of social media is that it is free! That means you have unlimited opportunities to self-promote on a daily basis. Although it is a good idea to review your profiles and ensure they are showing you in a positive fashion, keep in mind that companies also want real people, so your profiles don’t need to be completely sterile and void of your personality. Have fun, use good judgment, and best of luck!
Dos and Don’ts for Employers
Many employers still do not use social media as a recruiting tool out of concern for legal implications. Used correctly, though, it can be a useful tool in the hiring process. The following are some guidelines for employers to be aware of.
Do: Designate someone other than the person making the hiring decision to do the screening
Do: Wait until after an interview is conducted to view an applicant’s profile, and then only search public information
Do: Be consistent in the way you screen applicants
Do: Create a written social media screening policy
Don’t: Ask for an applicant’s password
Don’t: Use information that is protected by law (race, gender, age, etc.) in your decision
Don’t: Believe everything you see online