Image by Prateek Katyal
What is Social Media? What was its initial intended use for? Social media was designed as a place for users to create and share information with different people from all around the world. In today’s world however, the meaning and purpose of social media has become more than just that. Social Media is now a place where users are allowed to express themselves and speak their voices behind a screen. A place where users praise other users for their accomplishments but also hate, harass, and bring down anyone having any controversial opinions. The implementation and development of social media is a fairly recent movement that most of the younger generations today are growing up with. Social Media today, along with being used at home, is being used in the workplace, in schools, and even in the white house by the president. There really is no limit to what social media can do when it comes to connecting people globally. It isn’t only messaging chats, now there are phone calls, video chats, stories, emojis for expression, and GPS tracking systems to find out where your friends are and what they are doing. There are so many features social media has to offer that allow us to express more than we could have ever done with simple text.
In today’s world social media has even become a very powerful tool that can be used to help people in their professional careers. Websites like LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are even being used by job seekers and employers today to recruit employees as well as get an idea of their character and personality that isn’t necessarily displayed on their resume. Social media has changed the game for people in the hiring process and there are advantages and disadvantages to the addition of this feature. Employers are able to do screenings using social media accounts to make hiring decisions. Sometimes all the experience and qualifications in the world will be disregarded if and when an employer comes across a specific post on social media. This can be something that they either disagree with or find inappropriate. As much as companies are looking for people that have experience and know what they are doing, they are also looking for people who are personable and will make a great fit into their company. If a potential candidate is going online making discriminatory comments and not presenting themselves in a professional manner this will be enough to have their resume crumbled and thrown into the bin.
The question then becomes, are companies invading the privacy of these potential candidates? This is a difficult question to answer as one may argue that social media, if set by the user, can be public and therefor free range for anyone and everyone to look at. That being said, employers have the potential of viewing this content, put up by a candidate, just like anyone else would because there are no laws or policies to stop them. This can become a problem because social media accounts are typically very personal, containing information on race, politics, religion, gender, and sexuality all of which are topics that a person should not be judged on during the recruitment process. Rejecting someone for the color of their skin or because of a specific belief is not a valid reason to decide against hiring someone. However, if they are being aggressive and demeaning towards others while getting their message across, that would be a different case. It would be reasonable for an employer to reject someone if they were to find racist or homophobic comments because then it would be clear to see that such a candidate could be problematic or damaging to the reputation of the company. For these reasons, it is important for there to be a line drawn between professional and personal information that an employer can judge upon.
If social media screenings are now becoming apart of the hiring and recruitment process, then it should be done and taken care of professionally. Similar to how a candidate is aware of a background check being done as part of the process, they should also be aware of any conduction of social media screenings. There should be policies to govern how these screenings are being performed and what is an ethical and valid reason for a candidate to be rejected. When a candidate receives a copy of their passed or failed background check, they should likewise receive a report on their passed or failed social media screening report.
Until such policies are established, as an individual on a job search, it is good to take precaution and scroll through your social media accounts and make sure everything on there is something you wouldn’t mind being seen by an employer. You don’t have to be dishonest about who you are to make an impression, but it is important to make sure that anything you have on your account can positively work in your favor and show who you are. Job seekers are not always looking to find ways to knock a candidate down, it is possible that they may find something on social media that can spark interest in a candidate and then lead to an interview invitation. Things can work out one way or another in this situation that is why it is important to be aware of what is being posted on social media and keep in mind who has the potential of seeing this content.