Don’t Express Strong Views on Facebook if You’re Job-Hunting, Say Researchers

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Applying for a job? Don’t express your strong views on potentially controversial topics on social media platforms like Facebook, as researchers have found that job recruiters are less likely to select candidates who appear to be too self-involved or opinionated in their social media posts.

The study, published in the International Journal of Selection and Assessment, also found that recruiters are less likely to hire employees who post content suggestive of drug or alcohol use.

“In 2018, 70 percent of employers reported looking at social media sites to help them evaluate potential employees, and almost that many – 60 percent – eliminated candidates on the basis of negative content,” said study researchers Michael Tews from Pennsylvania State University in US, who cited a recent report by CareerBuilder.

“It’s important for job candidates to be aware of how they portray themselves in social media,” Tews added.

Also see: Social Media Hopping Sign of ‘Technostress’

The researchers noted that little is known about how much weight hiring managers give to potentially negative social media content.

Therefore, the research team investigated the effects of three potentially negative topics – self-absorption, “opinionatedness” and alcohol and drug use – on hiring managers’ decision making.

The team recruited 436 hiring managers from a variety of organizations, 61 percent of whom were employed in the hospitality industry and the remainder in industries ranging from information technology to healthcare.

The researchers gave participants a scenario to read depicting a hypothetical job candidate who answered interview questions well and exhibited enthusiasm, but also appeared to be prone to job hopping.

Next, they asked the participants to review components of the candidates Facebook profiles and to rate their employment suitability.

Each of the participants was randomly assigned to view one of 16 different Facebook profiles showing either a male or female exhibiting self-absorption or not, opinionatedness or not and alcohol and drug use or not.

After reading these profiles, the hiring managers evaluated the candidates’ employment suitability by providing an assessment of person-organization fit and an overall candidate evaluation.

The researchers found that self-absorption negatively impacted recruiters’ perceptions of candidates’ employment suitability and that self-absorption was more important than “opinionatedness” or drug and alcohol use in driving these negative perceptions.

The team also found that “opinionatedness” negatively affected perceptions of employment suitability.

“Social networking sites are often lamented as incubators of self-absorption, motivating people to tell others about their every deed and thought,” said Tews.

According to the researchers, social networking sites have given rise to unprecedented numbers of individuals expressing extreme and controversial ideas in a public forum.

“People who post divisive subject matter may be viewed as more argumentative and less cooperative. Additionally, their views could run counter to those of hiring managers, which may influence managers’ beliefs in candidates’ qualifications for jobs,” he added.

Finally, the team found that content suggesting alcohol and drug use negatively affected hiring managers’ perceptions of employment suitability, although the effect was much smaller than for self-absorption and opinionatedness.