Social Media Postings Can Help/Harm Job Seekers

The use of social media today is an integral part of self-promotion for personal and career enhancement. This accessible avenue for self-disclosure is an efficient, easy and customary method of advertising one’s needs for fast and prompt responses. Yet, if not done wisely, it may become more of a hindrance than a helpful tool.

Since all images, messages and words on social media are stored for posterity, young individuals should use them wisely and not risk hindering the attainment of their future goals by using less than carefully selected images or words.

The consulting firm Lee Hecht Harrison conducted an online poll of hundreds of job seekers’ methods when looking for employment. They found that 48% reported actively searching for jobs on social networking sites as opposed to only 11 percent of job seekers who claim they never used social networking websites. 37% of employers access social networks to screen potential job seekers.

Presenting oneself on social networks during a job search or earlier in life may be helpful or detracting to job applicants. In “The price of sexy: Viewers’ perceptions of a sexualized versus non-sexualized Facebook profile photo” Elizabeth Daniels, of Oregon State University and Eileen L Zurbriggen of UCSC studied the effect of media posting on girls’ perceived nature. They discovered that posting sexy images of themselves on social media led the women to be perceived as less competent than those whose images were attractive but not provocative. The researchers recommend that girls and young women post photos on social media that highlight their identity, talents, interests rather than their appearance. “Don’t focus so heavily on appearance,” Daniels said. “Focus on who you are as a person and what you do in the world.”

Other youthful postings may also end up reducing one’s employment chances later in life. Though employers are wise to concentrate on current data, observing applicants’ unbecoming postings of old, may dissuade them from seriously considering a job applicant.

Dr. Lori Foster Thompson, co-author of this study and a professor of psychology at NCSU found, “Companies often scan a job applicant’s Facebook profile to see whether there is evidence of drug or alcohol use, believing that such behavior means the applicant is not ‘conscientious,’ or responsible and self-disciplined.” Will Stoughton, Lead author of the study added, “This means companies are eliminating some conscientious job applicants based on erroneous assumptions regarding what social media behavior tells us about the applicants.”

Though most young individuals, who are not seeking employment yet may be unaware of future consequences, they are wise to present themselves in a dignified way or have the counsel of a mature adult’s guidance about their posting.

Social media posters:

  • Realize that some postings at a younger age may be acceptable or entertaining, but may not be appreciated later by an older employer.
  • Parents, advise your teenagers about resisting certain disclosures or sexy images and the importance of highlighting admirable traits, talents and skills for the enhancement of their future success.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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