We’re constantly told how our social media accounts are platforms for our personal brands. If we portray ourselves in a certain manner, it could lead to potential employers and eventually a job. In order to maintain this ‘pristine’ image, we have to stop and think before uploading and ask ourselves – would I want my mum to see this? But are we living in a society where employers are controlling what we can post on Facebook?
The ubiquitous presence of social media and online tools has provided companies, hiring managers –anyone who has interest the ability to view information about another person.
– Wheatman (2016 p.107)
When interviewing for a job you may be asked to provide references and a police check. More often than not, employers are now conducting Google searches of potential employees. According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, 4 in 5 employers researched applicants online (McDonald and Thompson 2016 p.71). This included social networking sites.
Employment Screening Australia outlines that employers often conduct social media checks and decide to hire individuals based on their social media presence. And if a profile is public – it is acceptable to do so.
Information of particular interest to employers includes ‘lifestyle’ issues, inappropriate comments or text, membership of certain groups and networks, and communication skills. Such background information on employees extends considerably the more traditional forms of evidence derived from criminal and reference checks.
– McDonald and Thompson (2016 p.71)
But what if you posted a photo a photo to your Instagram, two years ago of you dancing on a table with a drink in your hand? Why should that be a deciding factor on whether you’re hired or not? We live in an age where it’s easy to find information about anyone, so you can’t blame employers for being tempted to look at social media accounts. But shouldn’t we be allowed to decide that we want our personal lives to be kept separate from our work lives?
In 2015, a hotel manager was fired after posting derogatory comments on Clementine Ford’s Facebook page. Facebook users tagged his employer in the post, which eventually resulted in the man’s dismissal. Now, I’m not supporting the comments made by the manager but his comments were in no way related to the hotel or were made on behalf of the hotel. The only reason the hotel became implicated was because Facebook users went onto his profile, found out where he worked and then tagged the hotel, connecting the two together.
The digital age provides a gateway into our personal lives. I Googled my name, Chelsea Carden and on the first page my Facebook, WordPress, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts appeared. And for this reason, I am careful of what I post on social media. I have work colleagues who I catch up with outside the workplace on my accounts but as a rule of thumb, I don’t have my manager. The reason for this is, what if she sees something she doesn’t like and as a result, my work suffers. Despite living in a world of free speech, employers do use social media as a form of surveillance. The reality is, think before you post.
Glen, 2016, Social Media Checks, Employment Screening Australia, retrieved 5 September, http://employmentscreeningaustralia.com.au/2016/04/social-media-checks/
McDonald, P, & Thompson, P 2016, ‘Social Media(tion) and the Reshaping of Public/Private Boundaries in Employment Relations’, International Journal of Management Reviews, vol. 18, no. 1, p. 69 – 81, available from EBSCO Host, viewed 1 September 2016
Sullivan, R.S 2015, ‘Sydney man fired after calling feminist writer Clementine Ford a ‘sl**’, news.com.au, 1 December, retrieved 28 August 2016, http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/sydney-man-fired-after-calling-feminist-writer-clementine-ford-a-sl/news-story/e1179d6bd723ab6e395c1e2735e4a157
Wheatman, D 2016, ‘USE SOCIAL MEDIA to MANAGE YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION and SUPPORT YOUR BRAND’, Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 107-113, available from EBSCO Host, viewed 1 September 2016