Social Media: negative impact in personal branding?

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If you are on social media, and you are not learning, not laughing, not being inspired or not networking, then you are using it wrong. – Germany Kent

Can you imagine a today’s world without social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc.? Probably not. If this question was asked ten years ago, it would’ve had a different answer. Social networking and anything related to social media today is basically like having an online ID. You’re strange if you don’t have it or use it and even stranger if you have it but rarely communicate with it. It’s baffling how much social networking has been influencing our lives, actions and worldly views for the past decade and as how things are going to continue, it’s only the beginning. But how good or bad is this for us as people in both personal and professional aspect? We have Melanie who applied for job position in a well renowned company brand. Her experience is exemplary and the first glance at her CV; she would definitely be invited for an interview. Except she wasn’t. Why? A recruiter took a stroll down to Google search and typed in Melanie’s full name, just to check for some more, we could say, sensitive information. Since culture is really an important aspect in today’s talent scout, it’s almost an MO for many experienced and expert recruiters to check the candidates’ background more extensively. Upon entering the search, Melanie is active on couple of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The first thing a recruiter checked was her Facebook. Melanie didn’t have a fully locked profile and many of her pictures were still visible to everyone, not just her friends. Melanie liked to socialize and go to many electronic dance music events which isn’t to say it’s bad or in any way questionable but it does paint a certain picture on Melanie’s character. As it so happens, the company in question has a culture with somewhat silent and conservative demeanor. Melanie’s fellow candidates had similar experience as her so naturally, she didn’t make it to the interview round.

How does the above scenario sound like? Unfair? Sure. Hard to believe? Definitely. Be it biased or not, this is how today’s decisions are made, specially in a fast-paced industry and it is up to candidates to recognize the fact on how much their social media presence influences the opinion of someone else who might be judging them for a certain position in their company.

social media, recruitment, human resources, employer branding, candidate experience
Social media platforms.

Negative effects of social media

That recruiter doesn’t know for sure that Melanie wouldn’t be a good fit culturally for their company, but he made the snap decision anyway. Why wouldn’t he? There’s a candidate with a Facebook profile which differs from Melanie’s and it just might be the recruiter’s cup of tea. Whether this was fair or not is irrelevant. What matters here is how social networking and social media personifies us in the way which might not be true at all and it can negatively affect us. The culture in general today has become too sensitive and anything you communicate online can and will be used against you if there ever comes an opportunity for it. A smart candidate on Facebook would be mindful of how he exercises, let’s say, his political opinion which might differ from someone whose eyes are on him for that special position. A single sentence can create any kind of bias towards you which probably isn’t true at all.

Spending too much time on social media can have a negative impact on people in general. There have been multiple studies on how it decreases one’s self-confidence and how it encourages comparison which leaves many young people feeling inadequate. Negative states such as depression, envy and general life dissatisfaction as a whole are becoming more and more prevalent in all ages, not just young generations. With all that in mind, imagine a recruiter who is also a psychologist with knowledge of this information. If they have a stronger character, candidate will be judged to a certain degree just by having the Facebook account opened, let alone anything else. If I do say so myself, this is something to be expected. Social media’s constant usage has proven to aid in need of meaningless validation and breed of the ever so growing narcissism in young people. If a candidate activity on Twitter is high, the natural assumption will be information mentioned and the recruiter’s job is to be as thorough as possible, even if there’s a risk of bias creeping in to a final decision.

social media, recruitment, human resources, employer branding, candidate experience
Self-validation as a meaning.

Quit social media?

No, this isn’t to encourage everyone who pursues their career to delete their social media accounts, far from it. This article discusses only the potential consequences which could be a direct cause from using social media and what steps to take in order to decrease the bias produced. It’s also not in favor of justification of how a recruiter might act after checking additional information about the candidate but it does explain the reason on why they come to such decisions. It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, a good recruiter will make a snap and thorough judgment in order to save the financial aspect of the company in the long run and on the other, it can be completely biased because couple of pictures or a status could paint the wrong picture of the candidate entirely. The goal is to use it in moderation and not portray your deepest opinions on everything. What do you think?

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