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Social Media and Employment: How to lose a job in 142 characters


Cpt. Justin Rolland and Cpl Jeania Byrd of the Craighead County Sheriff's Office

On Friday January 26, 2018, Cpt. Justin Rolland and Cpl. Jeania Byrd visited Riverside High School to speak to over three hundred 7-12th graders about the pitfalls of social media and their future employment. Just last week, a Little Rock Police Department recruit was terminated after the administration found a racial slur on her private Facebook account. This was in the form of a “share” of rap lyrics from nine years ago, but the administration felt this behavior was not becoming of an officer. The recruit was one week away from graduating the academy.

There are pages of stories, just like this, from posts coming back the past to haunt people, often years later. More than 70% of employers use social media to screen potential job candidates. Nearly the same amount also use a search engine to further vet their applicants. What are they looking for? According to a Business News Daily article, these are the top eleven negative behaviors employers believe make for them to pass on hiring someone.

  1. Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information.
  2. Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs.
  3. Candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion.
  4. Candidate bad-mouth their previous company or fellow employees.
  5. Candidate lied about qualifications.
  6. Candidate had poor communication skills.
  7. Candidate was linked to criminal behavior.
  8. Candidate shared confidential information from previous employers.
  9. Candidate’s screen name was unprofessional.
  10. Candidate lied about an absence.
  11. Candidate posted too frequently.

Don’t drop your guard once you have the job. Most employers are now ever vigilant about making sure their employees’ posts reflect the values of the company. Nearly every agency has a social media policy now, requiring employees to sign upon accepting employment. If you have any question as to if your post is in violation of your company’s policy, check with your Human Resource Department. Don’t tank your future for followers.