By Kate Broadley, Executive Manager Employee Selection Panel Assistance, Eden Ritchie Recruitment
Social media is a term for the online platforms that people use to connect with others, share media content, and form social networks. Some of the most popular platforms include Skype, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, YouTube, Viber, Snapchat, and Reddit. Social screening of these online platforms is now an increasingly crucial part of the recruitment and selection process, although data in relation to its actual use is almost nonexistent and it is certainly not something formally recognized, as part of organisational recruitment policy or procedures. But what we do know, is that what you post online stays there forever and is accessible by everyone.
So how can you ensure you have an appropriate social media footprint?
Firstly, do a Google search of your name and see if there is anything inappropriate associated with you. I decided to practice what I preach and did a Google search of my name – fortunately I have nothing inappropriate to report on – rather boring in fact. Apart from my LinkedIn and Facebook accounts which I expected, what I did find, were some articles about me as the mother of my son Jack Kibble, who was Runner Up on Junior Master Chef some 8 years ago, and a presentation I co-delivered at a conference some years ago, which I had forgotten about and most certainly don’t have a copy of – but I now know a copy is accessible on Google. I then did a Google search of both my sons who are part of the (“Generation Y and The Millennial Generation”) who have a strong social media footprint, and while again there is nothing inappropriate (thank goodness) – there is a complete history of what they have achieved to date. In their cases, this social media presence may in fact be important and advantageous for their careers, however they still need to closely oversee the content of this wherever possible.
My boys have blocked me for years on their social media, so I have no idea what they post, but of course like any parent, as they were growing up, I have warned them about loading inappropriate content like embarrassing or provocative photos or videos of themselves on social media. Bottom line – if you don’t want your boss, work colleague or prospective employer to see it, don’t post it in the first place or if its already in the social media realm – remove it – it’s just that simple.
You can also change your privacy settings on your social media accounts and make sure it is personal to you and your friends and not the masses, something I would recommend doing, if you have not already done so. Remember your friends can still tag and copy photos that you thought were private and post to the public realm. Of course, there are privacy laws which cover the unauthorised publication of private material. Even so, once the information is posted, your reputation might not be recoverable, so be careful and think twice before sharing anything in the digital sphere. Bottom line, if you wouldn’t share it face to face don’t share it digitally.
So, the message is simple, be careful what you post, manage who has access to your posts and review your social media history and make sure it is representing the person you want to be portrayed as in the public realm. Remember social media can enhance your status in the market but equally it can be “an albatross around one’s neck”.
Best wishes, Kate