Whether you are officially using social media as part of your application or not, prospective employers will be actively checking you out online. A link to your LinkedIn page with glowing endorsements and testimonials is expected. Blogs, twitter accounts and websites showing you to be a ‘thought leader’, for example, or someone who actively engages with industry communities/peers should have the links listed on your CV. Outside of your professional profile though, are there any other social media channels currently used, or used in the past? When was the last time you googled yourself? Google may well be a prospective employer’s first impression of you, will you impress? Pre-employment checks are now common practise.
Being the most successful investor of the 20th century, most would agree that Warren Buffett knows a thing or two. His simple mantra for both personal and professional lives is: Never do anything in life if you would be ashamed of seeing it printed on the front page of your hometown newspaper for your family and friends to see. The internet of course has a much greater readership than a local paper!
There is a growing ethical debate surrounding employers or recruiters viewing personal social media posts (and making subjective judgements). The Chartered Institute of Professional Development has created a guide on pre-employment checks. Discrimination against age, gender and beliefs, to name but a few, is obviously something society has fought hard against, however rejecting a candidate based on a tasteless video (did it really seem funny at the time?) would be hard to a argue against. Mario Costeja González made the news with his landmark victory against Google, winning his right to have personal data removed and the iRights coalition are campaigning on behalf of young people wishing to delete their “naïve and youthful” web history. So a greater control on personal information may yet happen, to help counter issues arising from pre-employment employer checks.
In the meantime, whilst taking on the behemoth of the internet may be an option for the intrepid few, the other, and somewhat easier one, is to simply follow Mr Buffett’s shrewd and sensible advice.