Interviewing for a new job sucks. I would venture to say that it’s been that way since the dawn of time. I can just imagine the caveman, putting on his nice set of fur, brushing his hair with some dinosaur bones, pacing the floors of his cave, worrying himself silly over getting that senior petroglyphs designer position. He sat through hours of caveman questions, and waited days to receive a stone tablet in caveman mail saying he got the job. (Or however correspondence worked in the caveman days.)
I would imagine that job interviewing will continue to be this way until the world explodes or the sun engulfs us all in a massive blast of cosmic proportions. Job interviewing just sucks, man. But as we’re coming into a heavier age of technology, it has somehow managed to suck even more than usual.
Social media. Everyone has it. Some use it more than others. Some are across dozens of platforms, ranging from Facebook, to Tinder, to Instagram, while others have nothing more than a 10 year old Facebook account that they only use to play Farmville on the weekends. Either way, social media has become a crucial part of day to day life across the globe for young and old, and companies are catching on to that fact quickly.
If you’ve ever applied for a job, especially through an online application (which is virtually all that exists anymore) then you most likely know what I’m talking about. You fill in all the expected blanks; education history, previous job history, address, telephone number and basic information, and of course any qualifications you may have that you feel could set you apart from the rest of the pool of applicants. Then, there’s social media. Nearly everyone asks for it now. Usually towards the end of your application there will be a blank where you’re expected to fill in your social media information. They want links to your Facebook, Twitter, and any other blogs or websites you may be affiliated with.
“I watched dozens of highly qualified applications hit the shredder because of their social media accounts.”
If you’re anything like me, it sets in a serious existential dread almost immediately. Have I posted anything monumentally shitty lately? I’m a liberal atheist, and boy does my page show it. My luck, the hiring manager is a conservative Christian and the minuscule shot I had at this shitty job is about to go swirling down the drain. Did my friend actually post the shitty picture of us shit-faced in the club at 8PM on a Tuesday? God, was I wearing that Godforsaken hat?! Then you end up just leaving it blank, in hopes that no one will mention it on the off chance that you actually get an interview.
Thing is, if you leave it blank, you’re most likely not going to get an interview anyway. If you happen to be one of the lucky few that do, I can almost guarantee you that’ll be one of the first things they ask about. “Well, Mrs. Thompson, your credentials and qualifications look superb, but we were wondering why you didn’t include the information asking for your social media? It’s a crucial part of the hiring process. We’re going to need that information before we can seriously consider you for the position that you’re otherwise perfect for.” It will begin to feel a bit like blackmail. Either you cough up the incriminating Facebook page, or you resolve to a life of homelessness.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the stories in the news (while scrolling through that damned Facebook feed) where someone posted something that was less than flattering, and within a week they were canned from their long-term job and Satan himself wouldn’t hire the fucker. Sometimes, when it happens to be some hateful, piece of shit KKK bigot, it gives me a little smirk and a big sense of “serves your ass right.” But the fact of the matter is, it’s a gross violation of privacy.
Do I personally believe you should live a life of shitty Ramen in a 500 square foot apartment if you’re a bigoted bag of dicks? You bet your ass I do. But when it really comes down to it, your personal viewpoints, political stance, and opinions should not affect your ability to keep or hold a job; (Except for when it comes to public servants, like the police, or politicians) but it does.
Companies are becoming more and more dependent on social media history when it comes to hiring new employees. I personally remember an instance at my last “real” job, where we were in need of a new office manager. The ladies all sat around, armed with their phones in hand, typing every applicants name into their Facebook search bar. They had a partying picture from last New Years? “Trash. Ooohh, they’re definitely a Democrat. Double trash. God, look at that woman’s make up! Bet she peels it off with a putty knife every night. Don’t need her coming in here, to this respectable establishment, looking like a whore. Nope. Oh sweet mother of Mary, she retweeted Hilary Clinton! What is this world coming to?! Just can’t find good help these days.”
I watched dozens of highly qualified applications hit the shredder because of their social media accounts. They ended up hiring a highly unqualified conservative that required far more training than we were prepared to give. All because her Facebook page was wholesome.
I’ve lost more freelancing gigs and contracts than I can count because they creeped my Facebook page and blog, and found out that I was a liberal atheist. I’ve been chastised in front of my fellow employees because I posted a meme to my Facebook page the night before that my boss was not in agreement with. I don’t know how many times my application was tossed without me being aware, because of what they found across my social media. And I don’t even use Twitter. God help the folks that have an account on everything across the board.
The internet is an awesome thing, and so is social media. It helps us stay in touch with our families and friends, and even lends a hand in getting us a date or a late-night booty call. It kicks ass in a lot of ways. But it also opens up a door to destroy your privacy, and companies are exploiting the fuck out of that.
Obviously, the best way to handle that problem would be for companies to keep their big, fat noses out of your private life, and hiring potential employees based on the shit that actually matters: like your education, experience, and qualifications. But let’s face it; that ain’t gonna fucking happen. Hiring managers, and people in general, see an opportunity to dig through your life and a golden chance to legally discriminate against you. All they have to say is, “Well, your social media profiles led us to believe that you will not fit well with our company.” Boom. You’re out, because you posted a shitty meme, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
So, since companies show no signs of gaining any respect for a person’s basic right to a private life, you kinda have no other option than to fend for yourself. Set your pages to private, and for God’s sake, don’t be adding your boss or fellow employees. They may seem like, or even be, good work friends, but I’d bet my last buck you can’t trust them all. Keep your work and personal life separate. You’ll thank yourself for it later. If the interviewer happens to question why all of your social media is set to private, which they will, give them the ole, “Well, you know, you can never be too safe on the internet these days.” It’ll usually shut them up. If they demand that you open your profiles for scrutiny, fuck them. It may be a job lost, but it most likely wasn’t a job worth having if they’re demanding your private life on a platter.
And honestly, as much as it pains me to even be typing this, maybe watch what you’re posting. The fact of the matter is, nothing on the internet is a secret. Someone can, and will gain access to it if they really want to. You sent a nude photo over Snapchat back in July? Some asshat with a badass computer and too much time on their hands can probably find the damn thing.
I am a firm believer in clinging tight and standing proud for what you believe in. But I’m also no fan of cardboard boxes for a home, and I don’t like Ramen. So be smart with what you decide to throw out to the big, wide ocean that is the internet. Stick to your guns when a potential employer is trying to pry into your private life. And maybe one day, you’ll get as lucky as I did, and find someone that thinks that the world is on a massive, downhill slide to suckiness, just like you do. If you’re just lucky enough, they’ll hire you to write about it.
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Andrea is a freelance writer based out of Kentucky. She is the mother to a 3 year old little girl and step-mother to a 6 year old boy. She’s been married to her husband and best friend for 5 years. She enjoys fishing, camping, hiking and the occasional glass of wine by a bonfire.