Monday, April 27, 2015

Social Media, Personal Branding, and the Job Search

I have a question for you.  How can social media be "social" if users fear reprisal for their contributions?  Shouldn't you be free to be yourself? 

Something to consider...

According to a 2014 CareerBuilder survey, nearly half of employers surveyed check out candidates online prior to making offers.  Below are some examples that ended in candidates' elimination from consideration:
  • Job candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information 
  • Job candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs 
  • Job candidates bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee 
  • Job candidate had poor communication skills 
  • Job candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion...
  • Job candidate lied about qualifications
  • Job candidate shared confidential information from previous employers 
  • Job candidate was linked to criminal behavior 
  • Job candidate’s screen name was unprofessional 
  • Job candidate lied about an absence 
There is still work to be done regarding the legality and ethics of utilizing social media information in hiring decisions.  The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) posted two perspectives on their website in late 2014 in an article entitled, Should Employers Use Social Media to Screen Job Applicants?

The "yes" respondent advised:
Employers can minimize the legal risks and maximize the business benefits of social media if the screening is part of the reference or background check that is made before extending an offer or after extending a conditional offer.
The "no" respondent advised:  
As HR professionals, we are called on to use ethical and legal best practices and to not take the easy way out by simply searching social networking sites. So, if you wouldn’t peek into the applicant’s window at home, why look into his or her postings on social media?
Social media users vary in their opinions and personal practices. Some are very social, warm, genuine and share widely.  Others keep in the background and remain guarded of their personal life.  Neither is wrong.  However, the fact remains that your social media contributions may be acceptable to some and considered offensive or over-sharing by others. 

So, yes, be yourself!  But, be aware how your contributions may be viewed by outsiders, particularly if you are seeking employment. Make sure you review the elimination criteria from CareerBuilder above, and make the best judgment for yourself going forward.  

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