Why employers look at your social media before hiring

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Why employers look at your social media before hiring


Everyone’s on social media nowadays, and when you create your profile, or post your pics, you never think about your employer, right? You’re posting stuff for friends. And for your grandma, who comments on every single pic on Facebook. But what if we told you that there are more eyes watching than you think? And from high-stakes places?

By Editorial Team | 10th May 2019
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That’s right, potential and current employers all have eyes on your social media accounts, and they are judging you based on it. Is it unethical? That’s debatable, and there is certainly a discussion about the right to privacy to be had. But in the meantime, we’ve got to take care of the practical aspects: your employer is checking out your social media presence. Why does this happen, and what should you do about it?

Why do employers carry out background checks?

Before hiring someone, companies often carry out background checks, which can include a pre-employment social media screening. Background checking companies like US Search, Truthfinder, BeenVerified, Intelius, or Backgroundchecks.com are often used for this purpose, and they get everything an employer needs to know about their potential employee, including red flags. The pros and cons of social media background checks are numerous, but in the end, companies prefer to carry one out because it saves a lot of hassle.

It’s an easy way for an employer to make sure that the potential employee won’t create any issues, that they are a trustworthy person, and that they fit the company culture. A social media background check is free for the employee, and they do not know they are being checked. If you’re wondering: “how long does a social media background check take?”, that depends on the person, the platform, and how long they’ve had their profile.

Why do they look at social media?

It’s not difficult to figure out why a potential or current employer would stalk your social media. It’s an accessible, comprehensive, and accurate representation of who you are as a person, when your guard is down. It’s everything you haven’t written on your CV, and what you’ve left out during your interview; it’s what you don’t talk about during office hours.

They can learn a lot of private information about you, such as political and religious affiliations, social stances or causes you support, and just generally what kind of person you really are, in your private life.

The way you act can reflect positively or negatively on the company you work for, so it may not make your employer look good for you to be posting pictures of you drunk every week, or engaging in generally inappropriate behavior.

APRIL 8, 2018: Phone sitting on laptop with Facebook desktop site reflecting on screen. The social media giant's stock has dipped sharply since the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Employers will look at your social media if they can (Picture: iStock by Getty)
What’s a red flag to employers on social media?

Okay, so let’s talk about what, exactly, related to you or your behavior may constitute a red flag for an employer. Obviously, posting evidence on social media of illegal behavior is one of the big ones, as well as posting anything that contradicts things you’ve said in your CV or during your interview, like where you went to school, your work experience, etc.

Like we mentioned, generally inappropriate behavior can also be a red flag, not to mention extreme political views or a temper exhibited in messy fights and arguments on social media.

How to make your social media profiles look good for employers

If you’re concerned about looking good to employers during a potential social media background check, there are things you can do to “scrub” your social media profiles and make them look presentable and employer-friendly, so to speak.

  •      Remove or make photos private if they feature alcohol or illegal substances This is self-explanatory; keep your photos basic. There is no need to include photographic evidence of your wild night out or that time you went streaking in college.
  •      Stay away from public fights or exposing problems in a public fashion – Again, social media is not the place for discussing your personal problems or fighting with family and exes. It won’t make you look good if an employer sees all the details.
  •      Avoid controversial topics or views – While some “controversial” topics are definitely worth debating, your public social media platforms are not the place for it, because they can be seen by anyone, including employers.
Diverse people holding emoticon
Make sure you present a certain image online (Picture: iStock by Getty)
How to make your social media profiles private

Perhaps you don’t want to go through the hassle of “scrubbing” and curating your social media presence; after all, it’s your personal page and it shouldn’t interfere with your employment. Short of deleting your profiles and staying off social media altogether, here is how you can make your profiles private:

  •      Make new profiles under different names – You can be sneaky and just straight-up create another profile under a fake name, with fake details, so no one can find you, unless you want them to. You can create a “decoy” profile with your real name, if you want.
  •      Make the most of your privacy settings – Privacy settings are your friends, so use them! Restrictions, hiding, unfollowing – they’re all great, because they allow you to separate the content you want to show to different people.
  • Preemptively block work connections – Another sneaky one – block people from work and employers. Of course, this isn’t foolproof, because they can always use a profile that isn’t blocked to find your profile.

All in all, social media background checks can feel a little uncomfortable, because it feels like someone is prying into your life, but they are necessary sometimes. The good thing is that if you want to opt out of one being carried out on you, you can just take advantage of all the different privacy settings on social media, or even create a different profile under a fake name, to be completely protected.

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Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team is constantly watching for new and exciting services to report on. They aim to bring balanced, honest reviews to the site to give you the best comparisons and ensure you have the knowledge to choose the product right for you. Read more.
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