Social media participation has complicated the lives of many; making it a fitting example of technology being a boon and a bane! It is estimated that more than 80% of all recruiters use social media sites to find candidates. In fact, social media is so pervasive that the absence of a profile on LinkedIn or Facebook causes prospective employers to question whether there may be issues that should cause a candidate to be disqualified. While an online profile has become a necessity, it is important to understand the ramifications of posting your information on a public forum, and using the privacy settings effectively to ensure that your information is protected and that you project the right public image.
Fired (or Not Hired) over Social Media Participation?
What an employer considers to be inappropriate behavior and communication could get you fired, or not hired, even though the actions and decisions of the employer could be discriminatory. Obtaining information regarding the applicant’s age, race, religion, national origin, pregnancy status, marital status, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation and genetic information is unlawful when making an employment or promotion decision. It is possible to deduce this information through a person’s social media a postings, requiring companies to exercise caution in using social media as a means of learning more about candidates or employees. Of course, proving that a potential or existing employer discriminated based on information gleaned through social media is a lengthy and difficult process.
These days, any publicly available information can play a role in the hiring, promotion and termination process. Employers are not prohibited from doing online checks, although there are restrictions as to when they may check and what they may check for. After interviewing individuals for a job or considering workers for a promotion, employers frequently look at online profiles. Those that raise a red flag – like drugs, drinking, badmouthing old employers, and submitting fake qualifications, will usually result in rejection.
We have all been told that anything posted online stays there forever. While most employers will factor time passed into their decisions, some may be concerned that the individual will “return to old ways”. In nearly every case, the individuals will never be told that they didn’t get the job/promotion because of information found online. Let us look at some types of social media participation which should be avoided:
Shakespeare always knew how to express anything best and we must follow what Falstaff says: “The better part of valor is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life.” Make sure that you have understood the privacy settings on each of the forums you participate in because privacy is important. It matters! Ideally, ignoring all privacy settings and assuming that everything you post online can be seen by everybody when posting content, seems to be a highly desirable and safe option.
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