Your digital footprint might harm you at work, according to a new study.
From embarrassing decade-old Facebook photos to your beeping days in college to perhaps old, insensitive tweets, what we post on social media can come back to haunt us. A survey of nearly 1,000 people conducted by hosting website WhoIsHostingThis.com found that nearly one in 10 workers have already experienced their social media persona being used against them in the workplace.
With more than half of the respondents reporting that they feared their online content could be used against them, the survey dove deep into what exactly people are trying to hide from others including their bosses. Considering 22% of respondents in a hiring position admitted to not hiring someone based on their online content, it’s important to understand what employers are looking at before they decide to offer you a job.
Photos were at the top of employers’ concerned list, with 66% of managers admitting it dissuading them from hiring someone, followed by text posts (65%), videos, and audio recordings.
From the employees’ perspective, the most popular situation in which they’ve had online content used against them was their discussion with peers such as with friends (47%), a significant other (37%), and with family members (26%).
More than a quarter of respondents said their usage came back to haunt them at work, while 16% said it came up during a job interview.
What people are forgetting about
Just because a website becomes obsolete doesn’t mean the content you’ve posted disappears as your log-in tendencies. There’s a trove of old content online users are forgetting about that potentially could hurt them today.
On personal devices such as laptops and cellphones, 63% of users reported never deleting photos, the most popular response.
Here are some of yesterday’s top social media websites that people are keeping inactive profiles on:
- Myspace: 69%
- Photobucket: 69%
- Blogger: 64%
- Flickr: 63%
- Tumblr: 59%
How to keep it clean
While it seems like an easy fix to erase your digital-self by deleting profiles, hiding your Facebook, and even erasing all of your tweets before looking to apply elsewhere, experts argue it could send the wrong message to potential employers.
Jessica Hernandez, President of Great Resumes Fast, told Ladders in 2018 that job seekers could potentially miss opportunities by not having social media profiles and hiding your personal life digitally could even make you seem a little sketchy.
“It sends up a red flag when I’m trying to research a potential candidate and they have absolutely no digital footprint; no LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, or professional website that I can go to and learn more about them,” Hernandez said. “You find yourself asking ‘what are they trying to hide or what are they hiding from?’ It automatically makes the employer question the candidate.”
Some ways professionals can clean up their social presence before applying for jobs include searching yourself on Google, finding the balance between personal and professional, make the personal account more personal, and keeping professionals account public, that way potential bosses can get a sense of who you are away from your resume and cover letter.