It is estimated that over 80% of employers conduct background checks on potential candidates that they are looking to hire, and some of these background checks now include social media checks on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Almost everyone is on Facebook these days, and while it’s great for your personal life and for keeping in contact with friends and acquaintances, I am finding that it is becoming more and more detrimental to candidates’ job searches.
Companies conduct background checks in order to try to paint an accurate picture of who you really are and to avoid negligent hiring. They want to hire people they can trust to represent the company, and what better way to find out about “the real you” than through social media sites.
Facebook is an interesting (and free) way for employers to check up on you. Not only can they see your basic information, but they can also see your photos and what you discuss with other people on your wall. They can see what networks you belong to and even where you work. For the most part, companies don’t care about how you spend your free time – as long as it’s legal. What they are looking for are racist remarks (not only by you, but also by people who post on your page), sexually explicit photos or videos, and flagrant displays of illegal activity. Any signs of these will raise red flags to anyone performing your background check, and this can hinder your chances at securing your job.
You don’t need to panic and start deleting all of your photos and wall posts right away… especially if you don’t think you have anything to worry about. To start with, what you can do is check – and frequently recheck – your privacy settings on these sites. You might think that your privacy settings are all turned on, but the truth is that many social media sites update and reset these settings on a regular basis, and you might not even know that yours have accidentally been switched off.
The most important thing you can do is be more aware of what you have on your social media sites and go from there. Go through your photos (yes, even from those college days) as you never know what you might find. Are there “questionable” photos of you? Are there inappropriate remarks somewhere on your page that might be taken the wrong way? If you have to think about it, un-tag yourself or delete it…it’s not worth the risk.
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