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Does social media influence the hiring process?

Social media isn’t just a part of our lives; it’s a highlight reel of our existence.

We post everything from pictures, to our opinions and the places we go. And what you post can be front and center with the click of a mouse.

Many of us have either heard or heeded the warning “be careful what you post.”

Does what you post on social media matter for job seeking?

The conversation around the topic was reignited after a prospective employer re-posted a job applicant’s bikini picture on its account, calling a 24-year-old woman unprofessional.

After seeing the post, the applicant shot back with tweets saying she was objectified.

The exchange went viral, with the applicant gaining support from people worldwide.

What do SWFL employers practice?

We looked into whether employers in our area use social media to screen applicants.

We sent the question to top employers, including School District of Lee County, Lee Health and Publix. Of those who answered, more than 70% said no. One institution even said its lawyers advise against it.

As for the employers who answered yes, they said it was only for leadership or senior level roles.

Dr. Joseph Liu at Florida Gulf Coast University says, when it comes to screening social media, the benefit is not quite there, and that the potential risks are great, including what happened with the bikini photo.

“I think the rule of thumb is, unless you have a really good reason to use this, to kind of stay away from it,” Dr. Liu said.

Dr. Liu adds that there’s no real evidence about how social media is effective or ineffective in selecting job applicants.

“Maybe the tides are shifting, but I think there’s always going to be unconscious bias based on what you reveal about yourself in your private life,” Liu said.

And for that reason, Dr. Liu says it is probably a good idea to avoid the gray area altogether and keep things you want private — private.

What social profiles can be made private?

Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram all offer privacy options. As for VSCO accounts, they cannot be made private.

Reporter:Allison Gormly
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