With the current rise of social media, we are sharing more and more of our daily lives with millions of people online. Everything from holiday photos to opinions about popular culture somehow finds its way online for the world to see.
Although professional social networks such as LinkedIn exist, they contain only the versions of ourselves we want employers to see. Employers are aware of this, and after narrowing down applicants for a post, often turn to non-professional social networks to gain a picture of the individual’s personality.
Employers make assumptions about their applicants based on what they find on their online profiles. Statistics show that certain actions made on social media sites show signs of undesirable characteristics relating to job roles. The Big Five traits that employers consider when researching applicants are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and emotional stability.
There is evidence to suggest that badmouthing either friends and family or public figures online shows both a lack of agreeableness and a lack of conscientiousness. Likewise, posts that involve substance misuse show an undesirable extroversion. Although there is no evidence to suggest that there is a direct relation between content on applicant’s social media profiles and openness to experience and emotional stability, it is unlikely that it will go unnoticed by employers if these traits are clearly displayed.
Once something has been posted online, it is near impossible to remove it completely. By changing the privacy settings on your online profile, you can limit what is seen by the public, meaning that your whole profile is reserved for only those who you approve. That being said, it is a good idea to keep your profiles as work-friendly as possible. If you manage to secure your dream job, you don’t want to risk losing it because you accepted a friend request from your supervisor who then unearthed those photos from three years ago that you’d completely forgotten about. Every once in a while, pretend you are an employer looking to hire you for a job. If there’s something on there you wouldn’t like them to see, get rid of it. It’s not worth the risk in the long run!