Social media: A gateway to unemployment if you’re not careful!

JUNE 28, 2016

While complaining about your job or discussing your somewhat controversial views may seem harmless when amongst a group of friends, doing so on your social media profiles could leave you jobless and battling to secure a steady income.

This is according to Kay Vittee - CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions - who highlights that, although there have been numerous examples of people losing their jobs and / or being publically scrutinised for posting or sharing inappropriate or discriminatory comments online, social media users keep putting themselves in hot water.

“Considering that social media has transformed every aspect of our lives, it should come as no surprise that the job-market is no exception.”

Vittee refers to a recent Harris Poll which found that 52% of employers use social networking sites to research candidates.     

“Ultimately, what you say online – stays online and these platforms are often very easily accessible for another regular user to view.”

“According to CareerBuilder, 51% of employers that screen via social media reject applicants based solely on their profiles. This means that, if you don’t want your current or prospective employer to know your political views or what you got up to over the weekend, you may want to keep these details off of your timeline. After all, you want to stand out - for professional reasons - rather than stand up… in a disciplinary hearing,” she explains.

Over the past few years, social media uptake has increased drastically with a recent South African Social Media Landscape 2016 study conducted by World Wide Worx and Fuseware revealing that, in the last year alone, Facebook use increased by 8%, from 12-million to 13-million users, Twitter by 12%, from 6,6-million to 7,4-million users, YouTube by 15%, from 7,2-million to 8,28-million users, and Instagram, with a staggering 133%, from 1,1-million to 2,68-million users.

Vittee says, “With such massive numbers online on a daily basis, it is becoming common practice for recruiters to use sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram to not only attract and recruit top talent but also to do a little investigating about who they are really putting forward to a client organisation and whether or not they will suit the company’s culture and values.”

“Likewise, candidates are using social media to search for jobs, and network and connect with industry influencers. Gone are the days of a simple cover letter, CV and references. Nowadays, job-seekers need to ensure they have a carefully curated digital footprint and take control of what they are putting out there,” she adds.

Vittee shares a few points South Africans should keep in mind while online:

  • Profile Picture: A picture is worth a thousand words – especially for recruiters and employers scrolling through social media sites. 

Studies have shown it only takes one-tenth of a second for someone to draw conclusions about you based on your photo. Keeping in mind that social media profile photos are often visible to all who search for you – keep it clean and portray yourself the way you would on an ordinary workday.

  • Get some professional online: While there are a few professional ‘dangers’ associated to social media, it is a good idea to build yourself some professional profiles on online networking sites like LinkedIn. This will help you build your professional brand and get you known in your industry. Consider joining industry groups, start sharing relevant content and connect with like-minded professionals.
  • Don’t go on a rant: There is a time and place for everything and online is definitely not the place to talk badly about your boss or colleagues. Also, stay clear of religious or political rants.
  • Be secure: If you want to have a personal profile that you just want your friends and family to be able to access, check your security settings and be aware of auto-geotagging.

It is also important to consider that while recruiters have a growing presence online, so do scam artists. Always make sure you know who you are talking to when connecting with individuals online and don’t share personal information with anyone you are unable to verify.

“My advice to job-seekers is always to think before they post and use social media to your advantage.” 

 

“You may think no one is watching – but you can never be 100% sure,” concludes Vittee.