It is only natural for us to want to separate our work persona from our social, family, friend, school self. Our kids, pets, vacations, hobbies, relationships should be another world away from our place of employment, or potential place of employment. Perhaps that used to be true.
But we all know that with the advent of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and so on, most of us have posted details and photos and perhaps videos that represent our non-work, human selves. Who looks at this stuff that we have spent all this time posting? Who looks at pictures we have been tagged in, even if we don’t want to be tagged? And the rules on these sites change rather quickly, so that most of us don’t really know everything we can or can’t do on the sites, what other people can say about us without our permission, and so on. Plus it takes time to go back and edit the sites, even if we are aware of the new rules. And what have we said or posted about others? We also know that none of this stuff goes away. Even if you delete it – it lurks somewhere, waiting for the astute to find it.
According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and about 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees. The three main platforms that most employers check are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. About half of employers – 47% – said they wouldn’t call a person for an interview if they can’t find them online. (https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2377-social-media-hiring.html). Numbers are even higher in a recent blog from Skillmeter (https://skillmeter.com/blog/screening-job-candidates-using-social-media).
Sometimes profiles can be misleading, out of date, or reflective of simple activities that would not pertain to their hireability. Best to ensure that you have a positive online presence. You could even consider having public and private profiles. An interesting article about the ethics of all of this can be found at https://www.hrzone.com/talent/acquisition/social-media-screening-is-it-ethical.
Linked In is another issue. It is considered THE professional network. People are careful here to curate and tend to their profiles. Hiring managers will look at this to compare to your resume, to see if your present and previous positions are the same on both LI and your resume, to look at your stated education, your recommendations, to see how connected you are, the groups you belong to, etc. It is a really good idea to keep this profile refreshed, have a photo, include enough relevant information, especially if you are seeking a new position, making a presentation, publishing a paper, seeking tenure, hoping for a promotion. You are not invisible and extreme humility with very abbreviated information may deter potential employers and recruiters alike.
Just remember that whatever you do online is public domain, finders’ keepers.