I’m sure you’ve been told many times to be careful what you post on social media. “It’s public,” we’re told, “Who knows who’ll see it? A future employer? Do you really want you future boss to see your selfies?”
To be fair, there is a risk. We’ve all seen stories about people who have done something terrible, or stupid, or terribly stupid, and posted it online for all to see, and there have been dramatic consequences. People have been fired over tweets, for instance, and we’ve seen inquests and inquiries into racist comments posted on Facebook. Please be a little judicial about what you post online. Especially if you’re looking for work.
However, you need to be sure that your caution does not develop into paranoia. Don’t tweet racist jokes. Don’t post photos of yourself doing anything illegal. Don’t badmouth your employer on Instagram. But you are allowed to live your life and you are allowed to document it online.
In fact, it looks a little suspicious when you don’t have any digital footprints.
Hiring managers browse social media sites, and they do search for you when your resume crosses their desk. But an article posted on Careerbuilder last year indicated that they’re not necessarily looking for anything negative.
Six in ten employers who currently use social networking sites to research job candidates (60 percent) are “looking for information that supports their qualifications for the job,” according to the survey. For some occupations, this could include a professional portfolio. Fifty-three percent of these hiring managers want to see if the candidate has a professional online persona, 30 percent want to see what other people are posting about the candidate, and 21 percent admit they’re looking for reasons not to hire the candidate.
What does this mean? They’re looking to get to know you. They’re doing their research. You researched the company before you applied (you did, right?), and they’re just doing the same thing. There are lots of relevant things that may not appear on your resume that still may be of interest to a protential employer: hobbies and common connections, for instance. It also gives an employer an insight into your personality and how you present yourself.
And if you don’t appear on a Google search? No news is good news, right?
Not quite. Honestly, not having even a Facebook account is kind of odd (especially for certain demographics). If you don’t have one, it looks like you either are not very comfortable with the internet (which is kind of a red flag for many employers) or that you’ve scrubbed your past because you have something to hide.
Be aware of what you post online. Know that it can have consequences. But don’t disappear. Be smart, be careful, but be you.
And if you do have damaging stuff on your social media profiles, delete it. Just don’t delete the whole thing.