It’s no secret that it would be incredibly difficult to get a job without the internet these days. LinkedIn is a major source of employment for many people, and businesses will often advertise across other social media platforms too. Job hunters have access to more opportunities than ever, and employers can see more potential candidates. But do we want our lives on social media to affect our job prospects? And what are the dangers of the job market functioning this way?

The job search

It is so easy to browse jobs these days, from all over the world in every sector imaginable. If someone is searching for a very specific role that may be challenging to find, they’re more likely to have success using social media platforms. Additionally, finding jobs through social media connections and relationships is another commonly used and successful method of finding work. A candidate creates a pre-existing awareness of themselves. It can also be a useful tool when searching for more general or casual employment. Whether it needs to fit around education or childcare for example, browsing a good variety of jobs is useful to find one suitable to your needs.

This is obviously also a useful tool for employers. Many roles can be difficult to fill. Perhaps they require certain skills, or are located in an area with a small population. The more potential candidates they can advertise the job to, the more likely they are to find someone suitable. Over social media they can reach much further.

Are you the “right fit”?

It’s very common for companies to check potential employees social media posts. Some data suggests “61% of employers who researched potential candidates on social media decided not to hire based on the contents of their profile.” On the one hand, this could be seen as a benefit. For example, you wouldn’t want a colleague who posts racist diatribes to social media to be working at your company. But, what if the hiring manager has their own prejudices? They may discriminate against someone because of something harmless they see on their social media.

There’s also the issue of your social media history. Many of us started using social media as pre-teens. Of course there’s the inherent cringe of old your old social media existence. There may be evidence of drunken teenage mishaps. Maybe hurtful and offensive comments that you would never dream of making now. It’s hard to go through and completely erase everything that could reflect poorly on you and affect your job prospects.

Some will be left behind

The problem is, if you aren’t on board with this method of job hunting, you’re going to miss out on many opportunities. Your job prospects will be vastly reduced. Certain demographics of people may be cut out of the job market, such as older people or those from the poorest backgrounds. They may not be comfortable using social media, and navigating online job hunting. Or, someone may have deliberately minimised social media use for health, privacy or security reasons. Their small presence and lack of connections put them at a disadvantage to those who use social media perfectly for the system.

There’s the danger of scams

Job scams are by no means a new phenomenon. However, social media and the internet has made it easier than ever to ensnare unsuspecting job hunters. With working from home remaining common since the start of the pandemic, scammers can use video call and remote working programs to make their fake business seem legitimate. Duped employees come away scammed out of money, personal information and, of course, unpaid. A recent high-profile example is the MadBird design agency scam. The company tricked dozens in to working for free for months, with promises of rich rewards and UK visas for a new life. Social media job ads are difficult to regulate, so ‘Jobfishing’ will only become more and more common.

Is this the new normal then?

It’s difficult to move away from this model of job seeking if one doesn’t want to harm their job prospects. However, as society is coming to realise the full extent of how social media is harming people’s lives, from removing privacy to damaging mental health, we may see a backlash to this system. If people move away from social media, companies will be less likely to hire (or not hire) someone based on their (likely unrealistic) social media personas. If people don’t respond to job ads through social media, then companies will shift to alternative methods of advertising, providing more equality for potential candidates.

Polly Cumming

Polly Cumming is a British literary graduate keen on writing about human existence in this moment in time. She's thrilled to see some positive change in the world of social media.