If you’re posting about drugs or alcohol on social media, there’s a good chance you’re raising some red flags with recruiters.
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But according to a new study from Penn State, there’s something that’s worse for your social media profile than drugs or alcohol: self-absorption and opinionatedness.
To arrive at that conclusion, 436 hiring managers from a variety of organisations examined Facebook accounts exhibiting any or none of the three traits. It found self-absorption was most damaging, followed by opinionatedness and then drug and alcohol usage.
"Social networking sites have given rise to unprecedented numbers of individuals expressing extreme and controversial ideas in a public forum," said Michael Tews, associate professor of hospitality management.
"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."
Tews said self-absorbed people are encouraged by social media to “tell others about their every deed and thought”, but this isn’t a good look if you’re trying to get hired.
"It could be that hiring managers view individuals who are more self-absorbed and focused on their own interests to be less likely to sacrifice for the benefit of other employees and the organisation,” he said.
Why is self-absorption more damaging than drug use?
Tews noted that the examples of drug and alcohol use shown on the Facebook profile were reasonably benign: there were no references to binge drinking or actual drug use.
"One possible reason for the relatively small effect alcohol and drug use content is that hiring managers may perceive the content as relatively normal,” he added..
“It is also possible that people have become accustomed to references to marijuana in the United States as more states have legalised its consumption for both medicinal and recreational use."
Keep social media clean
If you’re on the job hunt, keep your social media feed clean. That is, go easy on the political rants, selfies and night club videos.
And consider running through your old posts.
According to McAfee research, two-thirds of Australians have been embarrassed by old posts, while nearly one-quarter know someone who has had their career negatively impacted by their social media account.
“Give your social media accounts a ‘digital health check’ on a regular basis, and take the opportunity to un-tag, report or delete any embarrassing or inappropriate content and increase your privacy settings,” online consumer safety expert and ‘Cybermum’ at McAfee, Alex Merton-McCann advises.
“Not only will you reduce the chances that this content will be used against you by prospective employers or even your friends, but it will stop cybercriminals with more malicious intentions from accessing your personal information.”
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