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THE QUESTION

How often do employers Google prospective job candidates? How much does this play into whether they hire them? I’m on the hunt for a new job and a friend told me that I should make my Facebook and Instagram profiles private so that I don’t get judged unfairly for my presence on social media. What do you think?

THE FIRST ANSWER

Jasmine Leong, people and culture lead, StoryTap, Vancouver

This is a tough one. As an HR professional, I try my best not to jump to any assumptions or perhaps subconsciously discriminate based on someone’s social media activity. Personally, I’d refrain from checking social media. Also, I’m very aware of potential biases as such, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your hiring manager will follow suit. For this reason, I’d err on the side of caution.

However, if you’re working for a technology company or if your job may be related to social media and online presence, it could be beneficial to direct prospective employers to the parts of your social media that you’d want them to see. It could act as your portfolio or an example of how you’d manage external-facing content. For those situations, I’d look into adopting a secondary social media account (while privatizing your primary) for this reason if you don’t want to share too much of your personal life, and even be open to sharing that with your potential employer as well, if you’re comfortable. This way, you get to manage what they see a bit better while still displaying your online presence and personality.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Emma Ghane, HR and talent management, One Moment Logistics, Toronto

Potential employers are facing a subnormal competitive candidate market. In short, there are a lot of candidates and a lot of open positions, and qualified candidates have many options with respect to their next career move.

I would be surprised if, in this market, there are recruiters who actively have the capacity to Google prospective candidates and are finalizing their hiring decision based on a candidate’s social media presence. With this said, it is not only the recruiter who will be reviewing your application. Oftentimes, hiring managers work with internal recruiters to review resume applications and will search for additional information beyond the resume.

Depending on the rounds of interviews, you may interview with your prospective team. I assure you that these potential team members will look online to source further information on who you are. While your social media is for your personal use, on your personal time, all social media profiles, including Facebook and Instagram profiles, are a reflection of who you are. Should you be hired for the position, you will become a reflection of the potential employer.

If you feel as though your social media profiles can lead to an unfair representation of who you are as a candidate and as a potential employee, secure your profiles by making them private and ensure you are authentically yourself throughout your interview process.

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