Is it okay for our prospective employers to look at our social media accounts? Jess Excell looks at the good and the bad, and reminds us all about untagging ‘those’ hey ewe photos…

"Fortunately the social media wasn't around when I was a student" is a phrase constantly repeated in today’s society, but why? Social Media affects all aspects of our lives and is used by the majority of the population, whether that be in order to stay in touch with family and friends, post photos or to join online communities that share common interests, beliefs or hobbies.

But there is a potential downside of all this; unfortunately, what goes on in social media stays in social media. Dodgy photos from fresher's, crude jokes and banter with friends are things that can be found on a University student’s social networking profile. In short, what we do in our online life echoes in social media eternity.

Your social media profile and history is not only a public manifesto and statement of who you are but also a public CV, visible to all potential employers whether good or bad.  

Employers would argue they have a legitimate interest in the ‘real you’ revealed from your unfiltered social online presence and history, rather than the ‘best bits’ that are presented in a CV or an interview. Job competition is intense for those graduates, with a supply of good applicants outstripping demand. Employers, faced with a mountain of applications, are increasingly using social media to shortlist candidates for final selection.

It is no surprise then that employers are beginning to use social media as part of the recruitment process. Hiring the right people can be a make or break decision for most businesses, especially smaller companies, and represents a huge investment, both in the recruitment process, as well as developing the employee. It is vital that each person is suited for the job, can fit into the team and has a consistent set of values; unsuitable or unreliable employees are not only hard to develop, they can critically impact team performance.

According to surveys conducted, about fifty percent of employers regularly search the Internet for prospective candidates and reported to have rejected some applicants after finding suggestions to possible drug use and/or heavy drinking on their Facebook profile. Is this considered fair or acceptable?

But it's not all bad news. Your social presence, well managed, can enhance your employment chances. LinkedIn, a business networking service, is used extensively to search for and recruit the best candidates globally. Many employers like to know and see that they are hiring someone with a unique personality, a range of outside interests and variety of relationships.

So – the key question is how to enjoy your social life with your friends, without a nasty legacy that could bite you in later life? Although, what you post in the public domain is your own choice, the main point is to manage your identity online by double-checking posts before sending them and controlling photos that are put onto your profile, as these are available to view forever. Instead, use social networking to your advantage, showcasing hobbies and experiences so that employers can see the range and richness of your life and your ability to keep and maintain positive relationships. Next time you’re tagged in that embarrassing photo from Hey Ewe, remember what goes on in Social Media, stays in Social Media…

Jess Excell


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