Lately, there has been considerable coverage surrounding an employer's right to include social media searches of a potential employee before hiring them. When I first saw this bubbling up, I thought it was nothing more than a passing story of the day, but after doing a little research, and speaking to some of the employers we work with, it turns out, that social media searches are much more prominent than many job seekers think.
It is no secret that what you put out on the internet, is potentially there forever and will follow you for the rest of your life should people want to find it. You need look no further than Mel Gibson's rant, or Kim Kardashian's sex tape, the recent video of the kids bullying the lady on the school bus. Unlike celebrities who can oiften benefit from a leaked video or Twitter pic, what you say or put on social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can actually do much more damage than you would ever think. Just this weekend, a friend of mine told me how his daughter believed she didn't get into the college of her choice because of pictures others posted on Facebook of her at parties.
Take Sergeant Gary Stein, a United States Marine who was recently given an other than honorable discharge for comments he made on his Facebook page about President Obama. Sgt Stein is filing an amended complaint in federal court, but here is a clear example of what may have been perceived as a first amendment right, ultimately resulting in someone losing a job they loved.
We work with many veterans who have been out of work for extended periods of time, and as you can imagine, many of them are angry and hurt. You would think after serving the country that this would not be the case, but in reality it is in many cases. Frequently, this results in tirades on our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter pages, and without a doubt, they have a right to be aggravated. What many don't realize is many of our employer partners also are members of these same groups or pages, and they too read the complaints many of the veterans in the group have. You would hope an employer would view these rants as just the veteran letting off steam, but many of them do not. Some view them as the type of employee they will potentially hire as having a bad attitude, or malcontent. After conducting a survey, we found that more than 75% of our employers would consider not hiring someone if they found negative comments, or affiliations on various social media sites.
Social media can also play a key role in helping you find your next job. When used properly, it can greatly expand your network, provide insight into a company or industry, and oftentimes even connect you directly with hiring managers. Check out this video on how to use LinkedIn to find a job.
So if you are reading this, you are probably a frequent user of different social media sites. My recommendation would be for you to go through your various posts in all groups, and remove the negative comments. I am not downplaying your concerns or gripes, but if the ultimate goal is to find a job, don't let something as little as a negative response to a Facebook post be the reason you don't get the job
Follow Kevin O'Brien on Twitter: www.twitter.com/VetRecruiting