Author: Ashley Vukovich
Our online presence is an extension of who we are. It's not just about the photos we post or the tweets we send out; it's a reflection of our personalities, beliefs, and even our professional capabilities. Did you know that most employers are screening for social media these days? It's a practice that's becoming increasingly common, and it's something every job seeker should be aware of.
What is Social Media Screening?
Social media screening is the process of examining a potential candidate's online presence. This could be on platforms such as LinkedIn, which is more professionally oriented, or on more personal platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. The aim is not just to get a sense of who the candidate is outside of the professional setting, but also to check for any potential red flags. These could range from offensive language, discriminatory remarks, evidence of illegal activity, or anything else that might suggest the candidate is not a good fit for the company culture or the role they're applying for.
Why Do Employers Screen Social Media?
While some might argue that what one does in their personal time should remain private, the reality is that in the age of the internet, the line between personal and professional has blurred. Employers want to ensure that they're hiring individuals who will represent their company in a positive light, both in and out of the workplace. A single inappropriate tweet or post can not only damage the reputation of the individual but also the company they work for. Hence, employers use social media to gauge who they are as a person and to ensure there are no glaring issues that might come up later.
Tips to Maintain a Positive Online Presence
Navigating the world of social media while job hunting can be tricky, but it's not impossible. Here are some tips to project your best presence online, without jeopardizing your personality:
Keep your social media private. This might seem like an obvious tip, but it's worth emphasizing. Keeping your account private is the best way to ensure who can or cannot access the content you share. It gives you control over your narrative and ensures that only those you trust can see your posts.
Deactivate old accounts. As we grow and evolve, our beliefs and personalities change. An old Twitter or MySpace account from your teenage years might not reflect who you are today. If you don’t care to revisit such accounts, it's a good idea to deactivate them. After all, you probably wouldn’t want your potential employer to stumble upon a decade-old post that doesn't represent your current self.
Delete any offensive content. It's always a good idea to do a thorough sweep of your accounts and remove any content that might be deemed inappropriate or offensive. Remember, it's not just about what you find offensive, but what a potential employer might. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Engage positively. While it's essential to remove negative content, it's equally important to engage in positive interactions online. Share articles related to your field, comment thoughtfully on relevant topics, and showcase your expertise and passion. This not only gives potential employers a sense of your professional interests but also your positive online demeanor.
Regularly monitor your online presence. Set up Google alerts for your name, periodically check what's publicly visible on your social media profiles, and be aware of the image you're projecting. This proactive approach will ensure you're always one step ahead and can address any potential issues before they become a problem.
While the digital age has brought about many advantages, it has also ushered in new challenges. Social media screening is one such challenge that job seekers must navigate. By being aware, proactive, and maintaining a positive online presence, you can ensure that your social media profiles become an asset in your job search, rather than a hindrance.