social media

I recently found myself scrolling through Facebook and coming across the profile of a former coworker while looking at a mutual friend’s post. Naturally, I was curious to see how they were doing, if they worked for the same company and if they had been promoted.  Although I could tell that they had attempted to adjust their privacy settings so that the general public would have limited access to their profile, I could still see information that caused me to change my perspective of them.  Between politically charged posts to pictures that they were tagged in, I found myself altering my opinion of them despite the amazing work that they had done in the past.

Unfortunately, this changing of perspectives is a reality in the workplace at all levels of employment. While you may think that your privacy settings are top secret, you may be surprised at what others can see, making it imperative that you portray yourself in a professional manner so you don’t miss out on job offers or lose the respect of the people in your field.  Make sure that your actions on social media are well thought out so that they reflect positively on you as a career minded individual.  Here are ways that your actions on social media can impact you at different levels of your career.


Impact of Social Media Use on Candidates

Most of us are aware that social media can impact our chances of being hired for a job; in fact, as a candidate, your social media pages may determine if you are even asked to interview for a position. CareerBuilder recently conducted a survey of over 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals and found that 51% of employers who did their due diligence and used social media to research a candidate have not hired candidates due to the content on their social media pages.  Some examples of reasons that they chose not to hire candidates included: the candidate posting inappropriate or provocative pictures or content (46%), evidence of drinking or drug use (41%), discriminatory posts (28%), and inappropriate screen names (21%).  On the other hand, there are ways that social media can work to your advantage as a candidate.  The same study found that 33% of employers found information that made them more likely to hire a candidate.  Some of the most common reasons that employers chose to hire candidates based on their social media pages included: the candidate’s profile conveying a professional image (43%), the candidate’s profile portraying an individual that would be a match for the company’s culture (46%), and the candidate appearing to be well rounded (40%).  Make sure that your profile conveys reasons to hire you, rather than reasons to question your professionalism.

Impact of Social Media Use on Employees

The importance of a positive and professional profile doesn’t stop once you have been hired for a position. Once you have been hired, make sure that you are aware of your company’s social media and privacy policies to avoid breaking any rules.  While talking or complaining about your job is generally frowned upon (but still legal), discussing certain information about the company and information regarding clients on social media can be grounds for termination.  In addition to limiting posts about your company (unless for marketing purposes), you may want to think twice before accepting or sending friend requests to your coworkers or employer.  Once you become connected with a coworker (or employer) on social media, you are essentially giving them access to your pictures, posts, and anything that you are tagged in which can lead to negative results in the workplace.  After all, you don’t want the people that you work with to form judgments based not on your work performance, but on your social media presence since those judgments can have a direct impact on how well your team works together.

Impact of Social Media Use on Employers

As an employer, you should reflect on how your social media usage will impact your relationships with your employees. What you choose to post on social media, and even a seemingly simple friend request, can drastically change office dynamics.  Should an employee see something on your profile that they do not agree with, they may worry that you will discriminate against them if they do not share your views (especially in relation to hot button topics like politics and religion); as a result, it is best to avoid posts that may trigger feelings of discrimination and mistrust among your employees.  Another area that can change office dynamics is sending employees friend requests.  Although there are arguments for connecting with employees on social media, even if your relationship is strictly professional, extending or accepting a friend request can lead to questions of favoritism in the office.  In most cases, it is better to avoid a potential misconception that will affect your ability to lead your team by simply being cognizant of what you post and avoiding social media connections with your employees.

Impact of Social Media Use on Companies

When I am interested in an open position at a company that I am unfamiliar with, I automatically sit down at my computer and check out their social media pages to see what I can glean from the information available. As a company, you need to be aware of your social media presence and how it will be viewed by candidates and employees.  First consider the types of posts that are currently on your company’s social media pages.  Do they represent the culture of your company?  Are the posts current, or are they sparse and outdated?  Are they interesting enough that employees and candidates want to stay engaged in your company?  Once you answer these questions, consider adding aspects to your company’s social media pages such as articles, job openings, training opportunities, community outreach programs and team building that demonstrate what your company has to offer.  How your company chooses to use social media can make a difference in the type of candidates that apply for jobs and how engaged your employees are in the company.


To ensure that your social media presence reflects positively on you at every level of your career, be aware of how your actions on social media will be perceived by fellow professionals.