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Be mindful on social media – employers do background checks

Have you heard about your digital footprint? This concept explains that all your information, opinions, pictures, and interactions online are saved and forever attached to you.

Information is available everywhere, and what you say or how you say it may have important consequences for your future. It is estimated that almost 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates, so you may want to think twice before sharing those wild party pictures.

What’s Already Out There

If you are about to go through a hiring process, we recommend that you analyze your own social media platforms. Use an online background check service to find out more about how your profiles can look from the outside. If you have never used one, visit UnMask to help you compare and contrast through accurate reviews.

Whenever possible, erase conflicting information (such as controversial political views or rude interactions). If there is no way to eliminate such information, make a list of what is out there and be prepared to explain. Never erase all your social media profiles. About 47% of employers claim that they will not set up an interview with a candidate that has no online presence.

A common scam is to create false social media profiles, and a search through UnMask will also let you know if someone has registered a profile with your information. If this is the case, you need to take immediate action and report the false accounts.

Social Media Etiquette

People use social media for diverse reasons: from self-expression and a desire to connect, to the creation of business networks. Billions of people connect to social media platforms on a daily basis. According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder in 2018, certain behaviors and actions on social media platforms have especially negative consequences.

Some of these are:

  1. Provocative or inappropriate videos or pictures

  2. Posting too frequently

  3. Unprofessional screen name

  4. Discriminatory comments

  5. Poor communication skills

  6. Bad-mouthing their previous company or fellow employees

  7. Sharing confidential information from former employees

  8. Rudeness

A common mistake is to believe that our online presence as separate from our daily lives. Interactions on social media are as important (if not more, because they are stored) as our real-life interactions. If you would not say something to someone who is in front of you, you should not say it on social media either.

Another common mistake is to make “funny” posts regarding alcohol or drug use. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, publicly sharing it may cause more problems than good. Be careful not to share fake news, and as much as possible, keep controversial political views to yourself.

This does not mean you should not engage in constructive conversations, but you always need to think about how your opinions may look to outsiders.

Protect Your Privacy

While hiring managers can use publicly available information on social media to make hiring decisions, that’s as far as it goes. Most social media platforms let you establish privacy settings, some even letting you decide which posts should be publicly shown and which ones will display only for your personal network. Understand privacy settings from each platform and use them to your advantage.

Remember that no hiring manager has the right to ask for your passwords, as they are protected by law. Other restrictions include:

  • Hiring managers are not allowed to ask you to open your social media accounts in their presence.

  • Hiring managers are not allowed to ask you to change your privacy settings

  • Hiring managers are not allowed you to accept them or other members of the company as “friends” in your social networks

If a potential employer retaliates against you for not giving them access to your private social media accounts, you have a strong legal claim against them.

Teach The Young

Ten years from now, most background checks will be performed by artificial intelligence. This means that information will be analyzed and sorted in a matter of seconds and that things that you thought were long gone may resurface.

It is especially important to teach children and teenagers how to use social media without risking their future. Ideally, no kid should have social media accounts if they don’t understand that there are risks associated to them.

Because social media is such an important part of modern life, teenagers should not be banned from it but taught how to use it responsibly. For the first few years, parents and guardians should check what they are sharing and have open talks about privacy, risks, and etiquette.

The responsible use of social media has many benefits. From keeping in touch with friends and family to promoting your business or your services.

Be mindful of what you share, and enjoy!