Social media allows you to connect with friends, family, and colleagues, but it can also share unintended information with employers. Employers are using social media to get a glimpse of who you are beyond your resume, cover letter, or interview. A 2018 CareerBuilder survey found that 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.
According to the survey, employers are looking for
More than half of the employers surveyed (57%) said they had found something that led them not to hire someone, specifically posts or behaviors that included the following:
Many employers have social media policies in their employee handbooks, and there are many examples of people getting fired for things they posted online. According to the study, 34% of employers found content that caused them to discipline or even fire an employee.
You may think that not having an online presence would make it easy to avoid all this scrutiny, but the study found that 47% of employers said they wouldn’t call a person for an interview if they can't find them online. More than a quarter of employers say it's because they like to gather more information before calling a candidate, and 20% say it's because they expect candidates to have an online presence. Although you don’t need to have a profile on all social media platforms, having a LinkedIn profile is an excellent place to start.
Professional branding is the process of creating a "mark" around your name or your career. You can build your professional brand by developing specific strengths and messages that people remember about you. It is how you express and communicate your skills, personality, and values—in-person and online. To be truly memorable and impactful, your brand should represent your authentic self. It is the culmination of what makes you unique. A professional brand can help you (a) use the right tone and serves as a reminder of what you are online to talk about and (b) avoid topics that are outside of that scope when you post, share, and comment. For example, if you use your social media for marketing your ENT practice, you’ll want to have a professional, reliable tone and share information about early hearing loss detection.
All your social media accounts should not be accessible by everyone (i.e., the Facebook account you’ve had since college shouldn’t be the one you post your career information on now). It is best to have separate professional and personal profiles. Then, accept only family and friend requests on your personal accounts (e.g., Facebook) and direct colleagues and coworkers to your professional accounts (e.g., Twitter or LinkedIn). Keeping your colleagues and employers from seeing posts or pictures from your personal accounts can help avoid questions or concerns.
Posting online can build your brand and your network. However, it’s easy to post an offhand comment that a prospective employer could see. ASHA’s Civility Digital Toolkit offers some guiding principles to help you build and demonstrate your online leadership skills. Remember, the words, messages, and behaviors you express on social media reflect on your competencies and conduct—as well as the values and credibility of the professions. So, before your post, stop and think about who will see this and how they will perceive it.
You should limit who can see your posts or images. Enable your privacy settings to share your profile, posts, and comments only with your connections. Make sure you can’t be tagged in posts or photos without being notified and giving your permission. Be vigilant about any privacy changes on your social media platforms, and adjust your settings as needed to maintain or increase your privacy.
No matter what, someone could share your profile, posts, and comments with an employer. Always post and comment with that in mind. Model professionalism and civility on social media—because you never know who’s watching.