Sharing too much can have negative effect on career

by Heidi Krick – Asst. Campus Voice Editor – hkrick@unca.edu

Today’s generation lives life through a four-inch cell phone screen and their future employers are well aware of that.

Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram track everything from momentous occasions to mundane events.  Network users document everything from birthdays and vacations to meals, hairstyles and daily outfit choices.  In today’s always on mentality, people and students should be aware that it is possible to share too much.

If an employer asked 20 years ago for eligible job candidates to document their daily activities in order to gain a better perspective of the applicant’s character, the applicant would have looked at the interviewer like they had grown a second head and walked right out the door, on to the next interview.

Employers today, though, are well aware of the amount of personal information available to them, and most of that information is just a few clicks away.

As the trends to post, update and document nearly every aspect of one’s daily life continues to grow, social media presence will play a bigger role in companies’ hiring decisions and those looking to hire are unimpressed by the number of beers applicants are able to bong.

Nearly 50 percent of employers use social media to research potential employees, according to a survey performed last year by Harris International.  Another survey by the career website Jobvite shows 92 percent of employers use or plan to use social media to help recruit potential applicants.

Maryland, in 2012, became the first state to ban companies from requesting employees’ Facebook passwords and other states quickly followed.

While individuals certainly hold a right to their privacy, job applicants need to ask what themselves exactly they posted online that needs to be hidden from employers.

Reppler, a company that offers help with social media user’s online presence, released information from a study done last year of more than 300 different employers explaining what companies are looking for when searching through online profiles.  Reppler’s data shows many companies learn about a potential applicant’s character and personality before the company even offers an interview.

Reppler’s data said 69 percent of employers rejected an applicant, even before interviewing the applicant, solely because of the information available on social media websites.  Through a little bit of online digging, 13 percent of employers were even able to determine that an applicant lied about their qualifications.

More than 40 percent of applicants lie on applications and resumes, according to Employment Screening Resources, a background check firm.

Before the increasing influence of social media, employers had to thoroughly and extensively compare one resume from the next and then, eventually, sent potential job candidates through grueling rounds of interviews.  If hired, the applicant was often still not guaranteed a permanent position with the company because the company needed to ensure the hire would fit with the company’s standards.

Employers today are now able to determine if a potential candidate maintains the same values their company represents, by comparing information presented on paper to an applicant’s social media presence.

Young hires have historically had a harder time landing a job, simply because they lack experience and are new to the job force.  When more than 12 million Americans are unemployed, perhaps qualified applicants should recognize a clean social media presence also gives qualified applicants an even greater chance of landing an interview for their dream job.

The applicant posted inappropriate photos or comments, posted negative comments about a past employer and the applicant demonstrated poor communication skills all tied for second on Reppler’s survey of reasons for employers rejecting an applicant based on the applicant’s social media presence.

Job applicants must maintain their professionalism.  Hopeful job seekers do not need to walk around in a three-piece suit speaking formal Shakespearean grammar during off hours in order to relay a sense of decency.

But job-seekers need to remember through social media’s massive presence, employers now have the ability to determine whether an applicant conducts himself or herself with a sense of respect and grace.

Behaving foolishly during seemingly private moments and then sharing such behavior with the public easily presents an incompetent person to employers.  Uncovering an applicant’s particularly incriminating social media account simply separates a potentially unethical or unprincipled applicant from a potentially successful and competent candidate.

Most people try to behave properly and present their best selves throughout the application and interview process.  Public social media profiles allow employers to determine whether the respectful and polite person they met for an interview behaves even remotely close to the same after hours.

Media profiles are, essentially, an extension of one’s self and employers are simply taking advantage of the information applicants present to them through their profiles.

Reppler’s survey also said employers rejected potential job applicants because the applicant made discriminatory remarks online, posted content about using drugs or drinking or the applicant shared confidential information about a previous employer.

Applicants must remember the majority of information posted online can be seen by the general public.

While some networking sites allow users to make their profiles private, pictures, comments and other incriminating information may creep into the public view because a friend posted the content on their own public profile.

Embarrassing photos that once sat in albums on dusty bookshelves to share with particular friends and family are now shared with the world and many employers are not impressed by what they find.

A social media presence may now seem detrimental to one’s future, but do not fear.  Just remember that a private life was once called a private life for a reason, everyone does not need to know about it.  Put down the cell phone and live life for yourself, not for the general public.

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