Social Media Posts Can Bite Job Seekers.
I’ve recently heard of several acquaintances finding jobs. So I was a bit puzzled when I learned that a former colleague, particularly accomplished in her field, still has not found work after a lengthy job search.
The individual I reference (we’ll call her X — she lives far from Anderson and hopefully does not read this column) is well educated, respected by former colleagues and has mastered complex subject matter. She’s articulate, attractive and previously worked in an expanding industry.
Therefore, I was perplexed as to why X has not found work. Then I had one of those eureka moments where her struggle made perfect sense. You see, X is one of the most vocal voices I hear on social media platforms. The subject where she most likes to exercise her colorful online voice relates to politics.
Whereas this mild-mannered person is the model of civility in personal interactions, her online sentiments would embarrass most sailors in a four-letter-word competition. Most of her Facebook updates contain several Drudge Report or Huffington Post links, always coupled with an expletive-peppered commentary.
Could it be that potential employers are doing online research on X before interviewing or hiring her? You’ve probably heard that employers across the job spectrum are using social media as a first means of screening potential job applicants.
What kinds of employers? Even physician recruitment firms use social media to screen applicants. A study in the September 23/30 Journal of the American Medical Association found that 60 percent of medical schools that participated in a survey reported incidents of students posting unprofessional content.
The National Association of Physician Recruiters has added a special session on the subject of future physicians’ online behavior to its annual meeting this spring. It’s clearly not just simple-minded folks who fail to see the potential consequences of inappropriate social media behavior.
If you’re in the job market or simply want to optimize the chances of keeping your current job, consider the following tips, regardless of your position on the career ladder:
- Avoid profanity. That’s a no-brainer, you say? Consider a Journal of the American Medical Association study titled “Online Posting of Unprofessional Content by Medical Students.” It found that 52 percent of medical school respondents reported they viewed profanity on students’ social media postings.
- Refrain from posting risqué content. That bachelorette party picture with you and the naughty policeman dancer may be hilarious to your friends but could leave a prospective employer with second thoughts.
- Never disparage your school or business. If you say something negative about your current employer, what’s to keep them from thinking you might uncork a mouthful about their business?
- Don’t play politics. We all see things differently. Unless you’re the candidate, be careful about exercising your right to free speech when it comes to politics. Political correctness can be smart business when it comes to social media.
Source: Susan Miller for The Herald Bulletin.