Social media in the workplace is becoming an increasingly powerful tool, not just for PR and marketing, but also for recruitment. More and more people are embracing social media as a way to connect with prospective employers as well as reaching out to a candidate, which isn’t surprising, as more than one billion people today are using Facebook alone.
This article will look at how employers, employees and job-seekers can use social media to their advantage whilst also keeping their reputation intact.
The Employer: Before the boom in social media, employers would rarely use social channels to qualify candidates. However, according to CareerBuilder, 52% of employers have admitted to checking social media accounts of potential candidates. Although Linkedin is regarded as the most professional channel (as it provides the most relevant information), the majority of employers are actually using Facebook to gain candidate information (62%).
Clearly employers are just as concerned about a candidate’s reputation outside of work as they are in the workplace. It’s not uncommon for employers to disregard a candidate based on evidence of recreational activities, such as drug-taking or alcohol consumption, on social media. Despite the fact that people may act differently outside of work to how they act inside of work, controversial posts can be seen as a threat to an employer’s reputation, as well as the employee’s. If someone were to hire a senior candidate who represented a professional corporation, and their reputation on social media was unprofessional, this could consequently tarnish the reputation of the company.
Contrary to the statistic in the previous section, many employers have also chosen to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles. These decisions were usually based on evidence of a candidate’s professionalism, or simply that their image on social media gave a good impression of their personality and fit for their company culture.
As a new employee, it’s important to remember what personal information is accessible on social media .If a new employee has a public Twitter profile for example, it’s best to keep controversial statuses to a minimum. Extreme views about politics for example, or other contentious topics, could prove harmful to an employee’s reputation as companies may question an employee’s cultural fit after seeing these posts.
It’s therefore crucial for employees to remember that social media can benefit their reputation, but can also be detrimental depending on the nature of the content, as many companies might not want to be publicly associated with certain views, even if they aren’t translated into the workplace.
Future of Social Media Privacy:
There has been a lot of discussion on whether it’s acceptable for employers to check up on employee’s social media accounts. The distinction made between a candidate’s personal life on social media and professionalism in the workplace also seems to be blurred. What is acceptable to one employer may not be acceptable to another and vice versa.
From October 14, it is actually going to be illegal for employers in Maine to request information from employee social media accounts, with the exception of workplace investigations, where the law “reasonably” believes that information could be useful to a case.
The safest thing for employees to do is keep their accounts as private as possible, while making the most of professional sites such as Linkedin to promote their skills and professional reputation. This infographic by Bray and Bray gives some examples of people who didn’t realise the impact of their social media activity, as well as some advice from senior employment law consultant, Ian Lewis.