Social media has transformed how people communicate and keep in touch, but how worried are employees that their digital footprint could jeopardize career opportunities? A new survey suggests many are so concerned that they are taking proactive steps to control what current and future employers might see.
Employment screening services company JDP surveyed 2,007 adults between the ages of 18 and 88 about their perceptions of social media and whether their employment outlook affects how they use it. They learned that an overwhelming percentage — 84% — believe social media habits can impact hiring decisions.
In light of that, many employees aren’t leaving to chance what potential employers might find. A majority of respondents — 82% — said they have “some degree of privacy” set up on their social media accounts. Drilling down further:
- A quarter of respondents have all of their social media platforms set to private, meaning only approved connections can see the content
- 43% use privacy settings to keep employers and co-workers from viewing their posts
- 40% have created an alias account making it more difficult for employers to associate the account with the employee
- 46% have used a search engine to see what employers might pull up about them and then have taken more steps to conceal their social media footprint
- 33% have refused to connect with co-workers on social media
Of the different social media networks, employees appear to be most concerned about Facebook, with 45% of respondents taking steps to keep Facebook content hidden. That was followed by 35% who said Twitter, 33% who said Reddit, 28% who said Instagram, 27% who said a personal website or blog and 16% who said YouTube. Only 9% of respondents wanted to hide content posted on LinkedIn, which is marketed as a professional social media platform.
Photos and videos were the top concern among respondents, with 57% admitting to hiding them. Approximately 51% of respondents said they have hidden written material such as status updates and comments, and 47% said they’ve hidden their ‘follows’ or ‘likes.’ Half of respondents admitted to removing old posts or profiles entirely in order to protect their professional reputation.
Respondents were more reticent about sharing certain areas of their life than others. A large percentage — 70% — said they want to keep their personal life private, while 56% said they want to keep unprofessional behavior private and 44% want to keep their political views from employers’ eyes.
While social media can make it easier to share information and keep in touch, it’s important to acknowledge how it can impact your life negatively. For example, research has shown that social media can put a damper on your savings habits. When it comes to managing your social media presence, not only should you be cognizant about the type of information you want to hide, but you can also use social media to your advantage. For example, you may be able to connect with colleagues who can influence your career, or even potential clients or customers.