How Your Social Media Account Can Help (or Hurt) Your Chances

How Your Social Media Account Can Help (or Hurt) Your Chances was originally published on Vault.

Like it or not, social media has become a staple of everyday life. It is used to stay in touch with friends and family, to organize events, to network, and it allows individuals with social anxiety to communicate in a way that is comfortable for them. Additionally, almost all users of social media use the various platforms as a method of personal expression. Of course, as with all things, social media has a dark side, which includes cyberbullying and trolling, addictive use, and other negative effects. Today we’ll be talking about how your social media account can either help or hinder your chances with both your current employer or prospective employers. Let’s get started.

According to a 2018 study 70% of employers have researched candidates using their social media accounts, while almost 50% of employers regularly check up on their associates’ activity on their social media accounts. In some cases, employers have reprimanded or fired an associate based on their social media activity, making up for 34% of employers that participated in the study. From this data it is reasonable to infer that employers are indeed scoping out your social media accounts, but what does this mean for you?

The Good

Your social media content has the potential to give employers an in depth look at your personality that far exceeds what is on your resume. Maybe you’re an athlete, and your social media posts show that you’re at the track every morning training for a marathon; the employer will see that you’re dedicated and goal-oriented. Moreover, your interactions with others might show an employer that you’re easy going or thoughtful, or that you’re responsible and respectful of others. These types of qualities may demonstrate to employers that you would be a good fit for their organization, greatly increasing your chances of being hired.

The Bad

Your posts are all troll topics, videos of you and your buddies playing mailbox baseball, and other assorted controversial content. The recruitment manager for a company you’ve applied for takes one look at your social media account and voila! Your candidacy has suddenly vanished without a trace. In all seriousness, even content that is remotely incendiary or aggressive can be enough to turn potential employers away. That should go without saying, but the point I’m trying to make is you should always err on the side of caution with your social media content.

The Bottom Line

There is an old adage that says the three things you should never talk about are politics, religion and money, which is a good philosophy to follow when deciding what you should or shouldn’t share on your social media accounts. Try to avoid subjects that are bound to create controversy or dissent in the comments section, or content that you think would paint you in a negative light to prospective employers. You can be yourself, just be selective about what you share and comment on.

You might be thinking it’s easier to simply not have any social media accounts, and that’s not always true. Having no social media presence whatsoever in today’s world could potentially come off as a red flag; employers might get the impression that you’re hiding nefarious deeds or keeping skeletons in your closet, or that you’re some kind of sleeper agent or something. Maybe not the last one, but you see what I’m trying to convey. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t have any active social media accounts, just keep in mind that it could affect you in the hiring process. I recommend having a LinkedIn, if anything. Not only can a LinkedIn account be used to show your work experience and education, but it’s a decent platform for networking and finding jobs. If you’re in the creative world, having a website with your portfolio is also a good substitute for social media.

The data doesn’t lie. Your current employer more than likely monitors your social media from time to time, so don’t give them anything bad to say about you. Keep it light, avoid confrontation, and try to stay out of Facebook Jail. And real jail. If you can do those things, you probably won’t have anything to worry about. Just be yourself, and use your own best judgment