To post or not to post: how employers can use social media

Though the privacy laws surrounding the world of social media have yet to become concrete, one thing is for certain: once you put something into cyberspace, it belongs to everyone, including potential employers.

Nothing new, right? Recent mishaps over online posts have made national headlines.

Former House representative Andrew Weiner was caught, in what is now known jokingly as “Weinergate,” sending sexually suggestive pictures to a woman who was not his wife. A joke to many, but the scandal cost Weiner his political career.

New England Patriots cheerleader Caitlin Davis was fired after a picture of her posing, poised with a sharpie in hand, over an intoxicated party-goer whose body had been covered in anti-semetic language appeared on FaceBook.

According to smiaware.com, more than half of hiring managers use social media before they decide to call a potential employee in for an interview. Despite this, it seems as though the younger generation is not as concerned about the effect of social media on their careers. Many don’t consider it at all

Recent high school graduate Robert Sheppard said he would refrain from posting things that employers view as fatal. That is, if he thought

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Sheppard celebrates his recent graduation

they cared that much.

“I don’t really be worried about that,” said the 17-year-old. “I wouldn’t think they would have the time to go [on social media] see what I’m doing in my regular life.”

A recent Work Smart article, however, points out that “regular life” is exactly what employers want to see. The site, which is dedicated to informing readers about the working world, says that the purpose of employers using social media is to get a glimpse of a potential employees personality.

Though adults already in the working world are aware of employers going on media sites, many do not agree with the practice.

Facebook user Tyechia Cooke said that everyone needs an outlet.

Cooke expresses her POV
Cooke expresses her POV

Some, like educational specialist E. Linde, believe that using social media as a hiring factor is not only unfair, but an invasion of privacy.

“Every person in this country has a personal and professional life.  It’s ok for the employer to look at LinkedIn or something, but FB, Twitter, and Insta should be off limit” she said.  “I wouldn’t want to work for someone that uses those tactics. As a victim of this invasion of privacy, my direct comment was ‘I have constitutional rights, and you have no right to use anything against me that has nothing to do with work, and if it is about work, then I have constitutional right to speak my mind’.”

CollegeRecruiter.com job board president Steve Rothsberg says that the problem with this tactic of screening candidates for hire is the potential bias that can follow.

“To exclude candidates for reasons such as race, school, or which football team the candidate follows,” Rothsberg stated, is potentially immoral.

Perhaps.  But if you never get the interview, you’ll never even know you lost the job.

Still want to make that post?  Maybe.  Maybe your creative personal expression is more important.  But at least now you know and can move to alter your posting name or include an ambiguous picture.

After all, knowing is half the battle.

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