Akika says: Social Media Sanitisation

By Geisha Bar

In today’s world, where an oversaturated social media presence is the norm for most people, it raises some questions about employment and your online activity. Do employers care? Should you?

According to a US survey from 2016, employers do care – and you should, too.
The survey showed that social media vetting is often outsourced to independent contractors by employers, and more than half the hiring managers out there have refused to hire someone based on their online footprint.

It’s something we all casually do, purely to form more of an opinion about somebody that we don’t really know. Got a snarky letter from your property manager? Look her up on Facebook and bitch out her home décor to your best friend. Trying to choose a tutor at uni? Check them out on Facebook (and choose the hottest one).

So, if it’s something we do in our everyday lives, we can hardly be surprised that potential employers do it to us, too. Due to this, there often comes a time where we feel that we have to give our social media presence and history a bit of a birthday, and tidy up our privacy settings (and possibly delete certain photos that may not show us at our best).

Earlier this year, NZ’s Labour party issued an edict via text message to all their election candidates advising them to delete anything that “might come back to haunt the party” from their social media accounts, and this included anything involving inappropriate gestures or alcohol consumption (man, I would have been fired alone based on the amount of photos there are online of me flipping the bird). “Your social media accounts should present you as a professional and in-touch person”, the message advised. Fair enough, I guess – when you have that level of job it’s certainly something that comes with the territory of public office.

So, how can you limit any damage done by your online presence without hampering your personality? For starters, don’t mix work and private life online – leave your colleagues in the tea room where they belong – don’t allow them to add you on social media. You can do this by changing your profile settings to unsearchable, or to un-addable. Better yet, create a super bland account using your full name, add only work colleagues and wider family members, and barely touch it. That way you don’t have to navigate the awkwardness of having a Facebook that your co-workers feel excluded from – and then you just use a pseudonym for your real Facebook page.

The main way to get around an easily judgable social media profile is to make it completely private – this is pretty easy to do! So it might be worth quickly checking the privacy settings of your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Consider deleting old albums that are just 800 selfies of you and your three besties on a night out, and limiting your albums just to holidays and special occasions. But whatever you do, don’t kill your online presence altogether – the survey had shown that 40% of employers were also unlikely to hire someone who had zero online presence.

Seems like you can’t fucking win, right?
I must admit I get pretty annoyed with the fact that most of us are working in jobs that aren’t all that satisfactory, which already hamper our personalities and creativity – so the thought of having to censor ourselves off-the-clock is one that leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I personally strive only to ever be totally myself online, and consider that an employer who would judge me for something so ridiculous instead of my qualifications, experience and glowing references is a narrow-minded fool who is probably missing out on many amazing staff. Not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t be able to respectfully work for someone who was so unimaginative. In my opinion, going out clubbing on a weekend hardly means that you are an irresponsible employee without goals and motivation. So just be yourself, keep certain photos away from prying eyes, and you should be fine!

Love, Akika xoxooxoxox