Can Social Media Keep You from Getting a Job?

Can Social Media Keep You from Getting a Job

Avoid these mistakes to improve your future job opportunities.

In July this year, Tik Toker Lexi Larson shared how she was fired from her new job at a tech company two days after she disclosed her salary to TikTok. While she was legally allowed to do so, the company said that her TikTok account could pose security risks. Larson isn’t the only one who is under scrutiny for her social media activity. With all lives being documented and recorded online, today it is just as important to get your social media activity right as it is to ace your interview to get your dream job. 

Around 90% of employers today check the social media accounts of job candidates with 79% of them even screening candidates based on what they post. If all this has made you want to reexamine what you do online, here are the common things that might make you a less desirable candidate during social media screening.

What is a social media background check?

Whenever you apply for a job, the company conducts a social media background check. This is the process of checking a prospective hire’s social media accounts to find out whether they would be a good fit for the company. It is often done during the end of the hiring process. When a company conducts a social media background check on you, they are screening you for the following potential red flags—

Sharing job offers

If Larson’s example tells us anything, it’s that companies are not okay with disclosing how much they are paying their employees. Job offers and salaries are confidential information and posting and can lead to the company thinking you are untrustworthy and rescinding the job offer. It could also harm your chances of getting other offers since other companies would now feel that you lack the credibility of keeping information to yourself. 

Posts about your former employer

If you badmouth your current or previous employers you are reducing your chances of landing your desired job. Even if you have a private profile, these comments could find their way to your employer if not directly, then through co-workers. This adversely affects the connection you might have built with them during your tenure and reduces your chances of getting a recommendation letter if you ever need one in the future. Future employers could also feel concerned that you would create similar posts about them and tarnish their reputation if hired. 

Indecent or inappropriate content

If your social media profiles contain your latest drunken escapades, you are likely to get screened out of the recruitment process. Indecent content not only includes the things you post but also the name of your social media handle, the people you follow and the kind of posts you like and comment on and are tagged in. Besides drunken selfies and videos, any show of violent behavior or sexually explicit content and malicious comments about minorities on social media could all reflect badly on you. 

Another thing to be mindful of is your profile picture. While it is acceptable to have a casual photograph for most social media accounts, you must have a professional-looking profile picture for recruitment websites like LinkedIn. Nearly 70% of recruiters say that they have turned down candidates based on their LinkedIn profile pictures. 

Sharing false information

One of the major red flags companies tend to watch out for is whether a potential hire is actually being honest about their professional qualifications and accomplishments. Of course, most people tend to exaggerate a bit on their resumes. However, if the company looks at your social media profiles and the information on your resume doesn’t match up with it then you might lose out on the job. For instance, if you said in the interview that you left your previous job recently and LinkedIn shows that you haven’t been working there for the past two months, the recruiter might doubt your integrity. 

Alternatively, companies also actively check for people who exaggerate their qualifications online. If you say you have completed your education at a certain college, only to have left it halfway, this could make the recruiter suspicious of the validity of any other claim you might make.  

Not posting anything

The final faux pas that you can end up making is not being active at all. Today, almost everyone is required to have a social media presence. Your social media handles are a window into who you are. They give the recruiter a way to get to know you before you ever meet in person. Not having any online presence makes you appear suspicious as if you are trying to hide potential red flags. If you can’t seem to get the hang of a certain platform, sharing and liking other people’s content is a great way to seem active. 

It is important to note that while social media can affect your future, this effect need not always be negative. If used correctly, social media can be a great way to highlight your strengths. For instance, writing a detailed blog post on LinkedIn or Medium could tell the recruiter that you have strong communication skills and give you an edge over another candidate. 

They are also a great way to form connections with other people in your field and appear active in your respective sector. As long as you make concerted efforts to create a clean and professional image online, these social media background checks are nothing to worry about. 

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Header image courtesy of Freepik


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