by Meghan Fuentes
It’s 5:00. You simultaneously clock-out of work and open the Facebook App on your iPhone. You mindlessly scroll through copious posts you missed between your lunch break and the end of the day. Family vacation pictures…“Best of Netflix” posts… funny memes… Buzz Feed quizzes… #tbt posts… Tasty videos… posts about current events. Your eye catches your friend’s very opinionated post on last night’s political debate and you expand the post to read more. You disagree with the majority of his claims and decide to leave behind a reply. You are mature in your response and refrain from using foul language or being inappropriate.
Although a conversation as such is ideally intended for only those involved, higher learning institutions and employers can easily gain access when evaluating applicants. Unfortunately, said institutions and companies can take offense to seemingly innocent posts. For example, employers may find it harder to relate to you if you have contrasting political views; consequentially, they may subconsciously be biased against you. Rather than risking the potential of insulting those viewing the content on their social media accounts, people slyly manipulate their privacy settings to create the illusion of the perfect, well-polished candidate. For example, people will often create fake profiles with their legal name and posts deemed “appropriate” for public view. Their “real” accounts will most likely be labeled by pseudonyms with limited visibility to anyone who is not a close friend. In your case: how might someone with different political views read your post reply?
Ignoring the existence of and popular use of social media monitoring devices, institutions and employers regularly research potential contenders before hiring them. According to social media monitoring service, Reppler.com, about 91% of employers look into the content of considered employees’ social media accounts. Moreover, in reference to the same study by Reppler.com, approximately 69% of Human Resources Managers have rejected people in response to the posts on their social media accounts.
Social media censorship sheds light on the validity of social media accounts and whether or not they can be trusted for a source of accurate portrays of people. Social media was originally intended to provide a secure method for people to connect and update their friends or followers. However, now that employers rely on it so profoundly during the hiring process, job seekers should be extremely careful as to what they post. In order to do so, accounts must be stripped of their individuality to prevent displeasing viewers.
In light of the unforeseeable risks associate with candid social media, should potential candidates erase their entire digital history? In an interview with Cleveland.com, Rosemary Haefner, Chief Human Resources Officer of CareerBuilder, argues that it is important for candidates to maintain an online presence if they would like to increase the likelihoods of being discovered. She clarifies how social media is now a major “staple” in the online recruitment process. Rather than privatize their profiles, people should be mindful in their posts and interactions online.
On the other hand, employers should, to an extent, respect the privacy of candidates. Although it may be tempting to dig into the lives of prospective employees, employers should utilize alternate methods to get more accurate information. It may be “old fashioned,” but talking on the phone, meeting in person, and paying close attention to reference lists may be more telling than dated pictures of them enjoying time with friends.
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