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Unchecked social media use can damage career opportunities

Allegedly tech-savvy millennials are letting social media stand in the way of job prospects as potential employers turn to the internet for background information

Many potential employers use social media to influence employment decisions, according to research.

A study by Norton and employment firm Reed, which questioned both employers and millennial jobseekers, found almost half of hiring managers had turned people down for jobs because of information they gleaned about candidates online.

It also found one in six people aged between 18 and 34, known as the millennial generation, are concerned that posts on social media may stand in the way of securing a job. 

Social media is an important part of online interaction for millennials, who are highly influenced by what they view through social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. But it is also a useful place for employers to find out some background information about potential job candidates.

“Social media has become a standard tool for recruiters to help choose who they invite to an interview,” said Martin Warnes, managing director at Reed. “As the number of online profiles we have increases, a simple search of a person’s name can reveal a lot about them, so we always advise candidates to give their online reputation a safety check before applying for a job.”

“We advise candidates to give their online reputation a safety check before applying for a job”
Martin Warnes, Reed

To prepare for job applications, many millennials search their name online before applying for a job to see what they find. When doing so, 22% said they had discovered content they did not know was available on their social media profiles. But 28% admitted they did not know what appeared when their name was used in a search engine.

The term “digital native” is often used to describe the tech-savvy generation who have grown up around technology, and therefore have a natural understanding of how to use it.

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But many hold concerns for this group of tech-literate young people, because although they know how to use and access technology, they are often oblivious to online safety and fail to conduct themselves professionally on social platforms.

This can often lead to compromised social media accounts. For example, one-fifth of millennials said they had been contacted in response to a job application, only to realise the opportunity was a scam.

Over a third of millennials stated they had fallen for a phishing scam, something which can further damage a person’s online reputation due to scammers posting content through the compromised social media account.

Professionals advise monitoring social media privacy and posts to ensure skills and positive interests are highlighted, which may benefit a job application rather than hindering it.

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That’s no understatement and, once it’s out there, it’s out there. It can also cost someone their current position. Many companies now have a social media policy which employees are required to review and agree to uphold. Where I work, violating that policy can have consequences, up to and including having your employment terminated.
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