Is it Ethical to Judge a Candidate Based on Their Social Media Presence?
Actress Shila Iqbal made recent headlines after racist and homophobic tweets she wrote in 2013 while in college resurfaced. The actress played Aiesha Richards on Emmerdale and was promoted to a regular character after appearing in her first episode, but lost her role when the story broke.
A representative from ITV confirmed that the programme made the decision not to renew her contract once the tweets were brought to the company’s attention.
Appearing on This Morning, Iqbal told hosts Holly and Phil, ‘I think ITV has a moral obligation to do what’s right by the public and I respect their decision. The fact that they’ve taken a stand and we don’t tolerate that language in society, and that’s the message that we’re sending out, that we shouldn’t tolerate this language.’
‘But I do question if it’s fair that I’m being judged on something I did as a teenager. And if we do look at the context and the intentions, there was no negative intention behind there. I wasn’t hurling abuse at anyone. I made a mistake definitely and that’s not who I am.’
Iqbal has said she heavily regrets her actions and has vowed to raise awareness by cautioning the younger generation of the impact that the words they use online have.
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have become the most popular channels to connect with people from around the world. But what you post carries real world consequences, as we’ve seen from the recent news about Shila Iqbal.
It can also hurt your employment opportunities.
According to a survey from CareerBuilder, 70% of employers use social media to screen potential candidates before making a hiring decision. More than half (54%) indicated that content they discovered caused them not to hire a candidate. Just some of the reasons included sharing inappropriate images, posting discriminatory comments, lying about qualifications, and displaying poor communication skills.
Employers are largely using social networking sites to research a candidate’s qualifications for the job. Even if you question whether it’s ethical to judge a candidate based on their social media presence, there’s no doubt that it’s becoming more commonplace.
So what can you do?
You might think that you’re better off completely removing your social media profiles. But many employers are now actively checking whether a candidate has an online presence. The same survey from CareerBuilder found that 57% of employers were less likely to call in a candidate if they couldn’t find them online. So not having some kind of presence online can also hurt your chances of being hired.
Instead, use your social media profiles to your advantage. Update your main profile to include a more professional image and showcase your personality by sharing posts that are relevant to your interests. Think twice about what you post though, as you don’t want to give hiring managers any reason to reconsider your application.
Getting the job doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear and can disregard what you post. Many employers still use social media to research their current employees. Continue to be attentive to what you post, because once something goes live it’s practically impossible to take it back.