“Why did I do that?” Job candidates lose out over risqué online posts

A warning for job hunters: your posts and pics on social media can make or break your career.

“It will prevent you from getting a job. It absolutely will,” said Matthew Sliver, principal and owner of Catapult Creative in Dayton.

The thought might make you cringe, but employers are scouring social media to size you up before they even consider you for an interview.

However, there are ways to clean up your feeds and land your big interview.

“It’s only recently that I’ve been thinking in terms of ‘what am I posting,’’ said Amberly Hoffman, a freshman at Sinclair who has a job and an internship, and also uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat.

Sinclair graduate Bryson Burlong said he’s never done anything crazy on social media, but has wondered “why did I do that?” when looking through his past posts.

They are right to be concerned about how social media could impact their careers.

Seventy percent of hiring managers use social media to screen job candidates and 54 percent say social media content has caused them to reject someone, according to a 2017 Harris Poll for CareerBuilder.

“The first thing I absolutely do is check their Instagram,” Sliver said.

Red flags include risqué posts, drinking and partying pictures, and anything too political, according to Sliver.

“You would be really, really surprised by the stupid stuff people put on their social media,” Sliver said.

But before you decide to delete everything-- here’s a sobering statistic: 57 percent of employers are less likely to consider you if you don’t have social media accounts, according to the CareerBuilder survey.

“Luckily, there was no social media back when I was a teenager,” said Mike Libassi, computer information systems associate professor at Sinclair College.

There are several steps you can take to cleanup your online persona, according to Libassi.

“Do a larger review of yourself using a larger search engine like Google and see what comes up,” said Libassi.

Also, delete all inappropriate posts and pics. If you can’t, email or call the company directly to request a deletion.

You can also make your accounts private, or do a temporary shutdown of your social media.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: What is cyber-vetting? It could cost you your job

But even then, your posts and pictures may not be completely gone. Some groups archive the internet.

"You can search for yourself on Wayback Machine (archive.org/web/) and you'd be surprised. I had a blog site from 1997 that was still on the Wayback Machine," said Libassi.

The good news? Employers aren’t just looking for your bad behavior on social media.

Posts about volunteer work and creative projects may even increase your chances for employment, according to Sliver.

If you think a potential employer has already scoped you out and you are concerned about what they found, Libassi said you can still save face during an interview.

“Don’t try to hide it. Say ‘it was something I did a long time ago and I want to make sure it’s not reflecting currently on who I am or what I do,’” Libassi said.

Hoffman hopes employers eventually shift their focus away from social media.

“The people that we are in our personal lives are not always the people we are in our professional lives and so there is a certain unfairness to that,” said Hoffman.

Burlong agrees, “Online is not everything.”


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