Social Media: Modern Day Background Check

Published on July 24, 2013

The launch of social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn has resulted in an unprecedented exposure of people’s lives around the world. Thanks to such social innovations we have reached the ultimate point of transparency where we are the creators of our own social faces; we can choose to share with our followers and friends updates, photos, videos, thoughts, ideas, and anything else we feel is worthy to share. We have the ability to reach out to large audiences fairly easily than any other time in the past. However, with any kind of freedom of expression comes the fine print cautioning us to monitor what we share and with whom on social media sites.

Active jobseekers should be aware of how their social media profiles are visible to potential employers. Social sites such as Facebook and Twitter can reveal more about you than any kind of background check especially if your tweets or Facebook updates are openly visible to the public. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is primarily a professional networking site where people come together to share ideas and opportunities. Nonetheless, it’s still a good idea to ensure your LinkedIn profile is free of typos and an accurate representation of your career accomplishments.

The type of content you choose to share can heavily influence your consideration for a job. For instance, a racy image of you doing drugs on Facebook or bashing your current boss on Twitter can send you straight to the “no” pile in the hiring process.

If you’re seeking job opportunities, here are 3 tips to consider with respect to your social identity:

1. Google Search

The best way to see an unbiased view of yourself is to, literally, type your name in Google and run a search. You’ll be surprised as to what appears such as images pulled from various social media sites or your name in publications of material you’ve written or is written about you. Whatever you find in the Google search, ensure that it sends the right message about your fit for a prospective job. Employers hire individuals to be representative of their company, and if your Google search profile is not compatible with these expectations, you may be setting yourself up for a missed opportunity.

2. Privacy Settings

If you do not want to compromise what you share on social media, take advantage of your privacy settings. On Twitter, you have the option of protecting your tweets and allowing only those you have accepted as a follower to view them. Facebook has an array of privacy settings for most things on your profile except your cover photo. Privacy settings may not keep you completely hidden in the social realm, but making an effort to clean up your profiles will work tremendously in your favour when being considered for an opportunity.

3. Consistency

Who needs a lie detector when social media is the gateway to accessing the truth about an individual. During a job search, employers check your social profiles to see if they are consistent with your resume. If you say you are a Commercial Underwriter from 2010-2013 for Company X while your Facebook profile shows that you were a Personal Lines Customer Representative for Company Y during the same time period, you will get caught. Sometimes it’s just a matter of updating your social profiles such as LinkedIn to be in sync with your current resume. Maintaining consistency of your social identity through all social channels will keep you trusted and consistent in the hiring process.

When used properly, social media can be an integral marketing tool for your self-image in relation to employment opportunities. Sharing relevant industry news, images, and opinions is highly beneficial, particularly if they are aligned with your potential employer’s views. With that being said, you shouldn’t sacrifice who you are for others; that’s why privacy settings can act as your filtered shield against the transparent web. Should you choose to market yourself on the Internet, it doesn’t hurt to see how you are being viewed by your friends, strangers, and future employers on social media sites, and how these perceptions will affect you socially and professionally.

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