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Social Media and Employability: a Double-Edged Sword?

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Career Advice ...

There is no doubt that an all-star LinkedIn profile can boost your candidate profile and increase your exposure to job opportunities. It is indeed a solid job search engine as well as an amazing networking tool that shouldn’t be underestimated.

However, in the same way a curated LinkedIn profile can send a positive image to your network, your activity on non-professional social media platforms could be detrimental. So you might want to ensure these profiles never become, well, an employer scarecrow.

Many employers and recruitment agencies review the social media profiles of potential candidates on the lookout for red flags. This is technically legal if they are legitimately interested in you, and so long as they do not become discriminatory (see Equality Act 2010).

On the other hand, the latest 2018 GDPR does protect candidates as employers are only allowed to collect data for “specified, explicit and legitimate purposes”. They are not allowed to collect cultural and other irrelevant data without providing justification and obtaining your consent. 

But beware of grey areas. A public profile can lead employers and recruiters to reasonably assume you are expecting to be contacted.

Aaron Elliot, one of our senior consultants, says:

“As a consultant I don’t necessarily look at non-professional social media profiles unless I am hiring for our team at Yolk - but some of our clients definitely like to check what kind of person they might be getting on board. It’s human nature, so you might want to ensure what’s publicly available on you doesn’t undermine the time you’ve spent perfecting your professional image”.

Here’s an easy rule you can follow to “career-proof” your profile. For instance, anything you wouldn’t want to be brought up in an interview should be either deleted or made private. You could argue that your personal life shouldn’t be used to judge you as a candidate - but you simply can’t expect it to not have an impact on someone’s expectations of you, even at a subconscious level.

Tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts are part of your personal brand and should hence be either private or employer-friendly. The same advice applies if you’re already employed. Your personal brand could easily be linked to your company’s public image, and hence affect its reputation, therefore:

  • Avoid publicly complaining about your job, boss, or customers.
  • Avoid publicly sharing another company’s job offer.
  • Avoid plagiarism.
  • Do not share racist, sexist or any immoral or provocative content. You should know what your company tolerates, and what it doesn’t.

And remember, people have a negative bias and damage is easier done than repaired. Better safe than sorry!

We can help with your career! If you’re looking for any other career advice, have a look at our other insights, or upload your CV to us today!