If you think you know your job candidates and employees by viewing their social media postings, think again.
According to a new survey, people are using a variety of tactics to hide social media posts about their activities, interests, and beliefs from employers.
Of over 2,000 respondents, 84% say they believe social media regularly impacts hiring and other employment decisions; and one in five say they have posted material that they believe could jeopardize a current or future opportunity. As a result, nearly half (43%) say they enable privacy settings to keep social media posts and information from employers; and 40% have created an alias or alternate account.
Nearly half (45%) of people say they want to hide their Facebook posts from employers, followed by:
· Twitter (35%)
· Reddit (33%)
· Instagram (28%)
· Personal website or blog (27%)
· YouTube (16%)
· LinkedIn (9%)
Establishing alternate accounts with different (non-identifiable) names is a popular tactic. Over a fourth (27%) of respondents say they have alternate Facebook accounts or names, and 22% have Twitter aliases. At the same time, 50% of respondents say they have removed old profiles or posts, mostly from Facebook.
While these actions make it clear that employees realize the impact of social media, only 25% of people say they actively present themselves on these platforms specifically to attract employers. This includes liking, posting, and/or following industry-relevant materials/accounts. Not surprisingly, workers are most likely to do this “posturing” on LinkedIn (32%), followed by Facebook (26%) and Twitter (19%).
What are people trying to hide? Nearly three-quarters (70%) of respondents want to conceal details about their personal life, 56% say unprofessional behavior, and 44% cite political beliefs. While federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against a prospective or current employee based on social media posts or blogs relating to their race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability, they can use this information as part of background checks. At the same time, workers can be dismissed (or not hired in the first place) for engaging in hate speech, making racial, ethnic, gender, or religious slurs, or promoting or threatening violence.
A clear social media policy will ensure that everyone understands what is acceptable online behavior. This policy should instruct employees to clarify that their online views are their own and don’t represent the company’s beliefs or policies. You also can make it clear that sharing proprietary or confidential information about the company, residents, and other stakeholders may be grounds for dismissal, as are posts that are threatening, harassing, bullying, or defamatory.