Social media presence impacts job opportunities, professional success

According to a 2018 Career Builder survey, social media may have major implications on professional success. (Kristen Hollingshaus)

Graduation day finally comes, the cap and gown are ordered and final interviews have been conducted for a post-graduation job — but the offer never comes. Sometimes, this situation is the result of what the candidate posts on social media.

While some employers examine applicants’ personal social media accounts, others do not. Either situation can work to a potential employer’s benefit or detriment.

According to a Forbes article, employers are increasingly conducting background checks on applicants and current employees by examining their social media accounts.

“Before you start sending out job applications, clean up your social media accounts,” Forbes’ Michael Wood said. “You will want to delete anything you think could show you in a bad light.”

2018 Career Builder survey found 70% of companies use social networks to research job candidates, according to a press release by the company.

Wood believes the first place to start is on LinkedIn, a platform that nearly all employers look at during the application and hiring process.

Madison Bohannon, the human resources generalist at Chatbooks, said she believes applicants should have a cleaned up LinkedIn account, but the rest is up to the individual employee.

“Checking social media accounts is not a part of our active recruiting process,” Bohannon said. “We also don’t do background checks just because we are a small company.”

Bohannon said the company checks references but also considers other checks to be fair game.

“If we were to look at social media, it could potentially have a negative impact on the applicant or employee if their actions and posts didn’t align with our company values,” Bohannon said.

She said Chatbooks looks for values like maturity, kindness and optimism when hiring. They believe these are attributes every employee should have.

“If they were to go against those, it could deter us from a certain candidate, but we are very open here, and everyone talks about their personal life and work life, so we get a sense of who people are every day in the workplace,” Bohannon said.

BYU media relations manager Todd Hollingshead handles information regarding all things BYU, admissions and Honor Code. Though BYU does not take social media activity into consideration for admissions, Hollingshead said he believes students should generally be wary about what they are posting.

“Social media has certainly changed the way people communicate both to family and friends and in professional settings,” Hollingshead said. “Students would be wise to know that their social media accounts reflect on them, either for good or for bad, and they are something that hiring managers around the country and world most certainly consider.”

Hollingshead said students’ social media posts should reflect how they want to be represented, knowing it could be something an employer reviews before hiring.

Some students attest to the importance of careful social media use and its impact on their successes.

BYU senior Rebecca Gordon is looking for an internship and said she makes sure her social media image is representative of who she is.

“I don’t think that my social media is representative of me as an employee because I don’t post about my academics often, but it does portray general characteristics that I have,” Gordon said. “I make sure that I post clean, wholesome content that is in line with my general attributes.”

Many students believe the same and keep their social media either private from the public or in line with their values.

BYU junior Grace Bateman got her current event planning internship with Michelle Leo Events through her social media account and believes success can come from being held accountable to her actions on her page.

“I ended up direct messaging my current employer when I wanted a job with her, and she replied, and that led to the interview process,” Bateman said. “Had I had a poor image on my account, she might not have even replied.”

Glenn Seninger, an employee at Oracle of over 20 years, believes candidates’ behavior needs to keep up with the changing times.

“From my point of view, candidates interviewing for jobs need to be fully aware that hiring companies will look into an applicants’ online presence,” Seninger said. “Employers are trying to understand the skill sets of the people they are interviewing and how they will align with the goals and culture of the company.”

He also said students should be aware that in the same way individuals have an in-person presence and appearance, they also have an online presence and appearance.

Seninger further explained that as employees advance to management positions, not only do they undergo background checks, but full online and media checks.

“A digital footprint stays forever,” Seninger said. “No company wants to deal with a brand risk.”

According to Seninger, students and employees need to remember this throughout their entire career, not just while they are young.

He said preventative measures can be taken by creating private accounts, or simply posting wholesome content that represents good morale.

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