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Survey: 82% of Workers Try to Keep Their Social Media From Employers

By Daniel B. Kline – Aug 25, 2019 at 7:10AM

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Some use aliases, others try privacy settings, and 50% don't think companies should be allowed to look.

Worried that a nearly innocent photo of you having a little too much fun at a wedding or a post that's political or maybe a bit R-rated might keep you from getting hired? You aren't alone. 

Most workers believe that social media can impact hiring decisions, and many have gone to at least some lengths to protect themselves, according to a new survey from JDP, a company that provides employment screening.

Over 8-in-10 (84%) of the 2,007 American adults surveyed in mid-July said they believe social media impacts hiring decisions. Half (50%) feel that companies should not be allowed to check their social media, and many (82%) have at least taken some steps to keep their accounts private.

Younger people use a variety of devices.

Workers are concerned about employers seeing what they post on social media. Image source: Getty Images.

Going private

Technology has made once-private moments public -- at least if you don't take steps to keep them from unwanted eyes. There are a number of ways to do that, though neither is foolproof -- if anyone can see your images or posts, then that person or people could share them, record them, or post them elsewhere.

That has led 43% of survey respondents to make at least some of their social media private from employers and coworkers. A similar amount (40%) admitted that they have used alias accounts (an account under something other than their own name) to post without fear of being discovered by a current or potential boss.

"Almost half of respondents (46%) said they've plugged their names into a search engine and further concealed their social media presence based on what they found. Facebook was home to the most incriminating material," according to the survey.

More than half (57%) said they were hiding photos, while 51% cited written posts as what they wanted to keep secret. Almost half (47%) said they were keeping their follows and likes a secret. In addition, 70% said they wanted to keep their private life to themselves, while 56% admitted they're hiding unprofessional behavior and 44% were shielding their political views.

What can you do?

Manage your social media as if anything you post could be seen by people who you may not want to see it. Use privacy settings to protect yourself as much as you feel necessary but recognize that if you post something, it's out there and it could be seen.

Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile that's up-to-date and fully professional. That Microsoft-owned company is built around featuring your resume and work connections. Your other social media can be more personal, but you may be judged for it.

It's not fair for an employer to infer things about you because you share a Sarah Silverman post or pass on something Larry the Cable Guy said, but it might happen. Understand that your actions on social media that aren't behind a privacy wall are fully transparent.

If you have a job, it's also important to understand your company's social media and other policies. If, for example, you're not allowed to drink in the office, you may want to avoid posting pictures of yourself doing shots in the break room.

Be careful and know that social media is public and possibly forever. If you don't want people to see something you post (or know that you follow BTS or love the Minnesota Twins), don't post it, like it, or follow it.

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel B. Kline owns shares of Facebook and Microsoft. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook and Microsoft. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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