Social Media and the Workplace – Love it or Hate it?

by Compass Cleaning Solutions • January 09, 2017
Social media and work

Do you have a Facebook page? How about Twitter? Linked In? Google ? I tell people all the time to be careful what you post on these sites because it will come back to haunt you. Aside from the physical risks of telling anyone and everyone where you are, there are the risks of misuse and misinterpretation.

But what about businesses using these sites as a resource to develop a picture of a potential candidate for a job in your company. Here is the question: Is it legitimate to use this information as one source to vet a job candidate? This is the core of a question posed by Kashmir Hill of Forbes Magazine. As I read the article I was amused because we have done this very thing. There are arguments both for and against so I thought I would wade in as well.

Privacy Concerns

“This is my private life and these are my friends! You have no right to invade my privacy!” Sounds reasonable, except that when you make it public its not private anymore. If you don’t want it public, keep it private. There’s an app for that.

When we look into the private life of a person (using social media) we’re looking for signals that reveal the character and temperament of a candidate. We’re trying to avoid future ‘land minds’. Character, decision making and choices matter. How you come to your choices and what forces are involved to lead you to a decision are important for an employer. Unguarded moments tell me what I need to know. We have hired people based on traditional methodology (resumes and the truncated afirmations by past employers) only to find later that there was a whole lot of ‘private’ information that now was brought into our business and we were left to try and clean up the mess and fallout from that mistake. It is a misnomer that our private lives do not effect our work lives. Public or private we are the same people.

Interviews or Linked In Are Better Indicators of Work Performance

This is naive at best. We (employers) are not relying solely on your social media persona, it is an additional perspective, one of many we will look at. As one person in the above article mentioned, if an employer doesn’t use every legal resource available, he or she is doing their company a disservice. It is no different than a candidate doing research on a prospective employer. Secondly, everyone puts on their best behavior in an interview, guards their speech, dresses the part and more. The ‘true’ person only comes out in relaxed moments and that is who we want to know, not the cardboard caricature seen in the interview.

Alternative Thinking

There is another side to this that we should really look closely at. Most employers I talk to want employees who have a broader and richer set of interests than what the particular job requires. Why? Because a person with a wide array of interests brings intangibles to the job and often offers new perspectives that make the company better. I thought about this when I saw my twenty something daughter’s new profile ‘picture’ on Facebook. She is a staunch supporter of Invisible Children and other organizations trying to bring an end to the brutality of Joseph Kony and the LRA. I read with interest her defense of IC against critics and heard her passion. It made me wonder if perhaps that kind of passion and eloquence and courage would be good for a company looking to hire her. I believe it would.

So here is my point, social media can be harmful if you are careless, or it just might get the attention of an employer looking beyond the parties and after hours antics we so commonly see on these sites. It really depends on what you post.

So, before you interview you might want to review your various social media sites and do a bit of editing. Private is private, public is public. On the other hand you might want to consider posting about things that you are passionate about especially if they are things that can impact society, or even a new employer.

Speaking of social media sites we would love to hear back from you on this topic or any other and we can be reached through our websiteor the links at the top of the page.