Yes. 110% yes. Potential employers will absolutely look at your social media profiles. If you doubt in your mind, think about this; 60% of employers are currently using social media sites to research candidates. With 65% of adults and 90% of young adults on social media, why would employers not seek out passive candidates via social media?
Is it legal for a potential employer to look at my social media accounts?
Yes, if your accounts privacy settings are public, it is entirely legal for a company to look at your profile. With that said, it is illegal for companies to discriminate against you based on your social media profiles. This discrimination includes things like race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disabilities and so on.
Is it legal for a potential employer to ask for my social media passwords?
Yes and no. Sharing your password is a gray area. The advice given by the Society for Human Resource Management is to "never ask for passwords. In several states, employers cannot ask an applicant (or employee) for his or her social media password by law. In all 50 states, asking for an applicant’s (or employee’s) password creates a real risk of violating the Federal Stored Communications Act. For this reason, employers should look only at content that is public." Our best advice is never to share your passwords with anyone.
How can I make sure I am not hurting my chances of getting a job because of my social media profiles?
There are two primary schools of thought on this topic.
1. Make your accounts private/control your privacy settings.
2. Clean up your profiles, so you don't have anything potentially harmful on them.
- Delete old photos from college where you are blatantly binge drinking or out partying a little too hard.
- Remove any tweets or posts that say negative things about former bosses, co-workers, or employers.
- Make sure none of your posts show any "bad judgment", like talking about family fighting, drugs, or other poor decisions.
- Know that you are opening yourself up to potential discrimination based on, race, gender, age, and other factors by allowing your profile to be public.
What should I do if I have a lot to say about something controversial and want to engage about things on my social media platforms?
Always protect yourself online. If you are passionate about a topic and are worried that a potential employer may not like your views, you have a couple options. We suggest having a professional twitter account and a private twitter account. You can also protect your profile using your security settings. We encourage you to keep your LinkedIn profile open to view and professional and then keep your other social profiles private.
Does it matter what my friends online have to say?
Kind of. If you are tagged in a post and allow it to show up on your Facebook or Twitter wall (you can control this in your settings), then your future employer will be able to see it. If you are not tagged in a post or mentioned, then there is no need to worry about what your friends are saying (we do recommend being careful with re-tweets though).
Have any other questions about social media and hiring? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our chatbot Kavaliro Kevin to ask us questions.