Research conducted by OnDevice Research has found that young people in the UK are being rejected by employers for inappropriate comments and photos posted on social media sites.
The Young People’s Consumer Confidence (YPCC) Index covers 6,000 16-34 year olds across six countries in both developed and growth markets. It has been designed to help businesses understand what young people think about their current and future prospects in employment amongst other things.
Impact of social media on careers
In the UK, it was reported that 9% of 16 – 24 years olds have been rejected for a job because of comments made or pictures posted on social media sites. For 25 – 34 year olds this drops to 6%. Although these figures ma y seem surprising, I believe that the true figure could be much higher. The surveys have been completed by the failed applicants and it is likely that many more have been rejected for reasons connected to their social media profiles but they have simply not been given that reason.
Regardless, the UK appears to be more liberal than China, where 16% of 16 – 24 year olds surveyed reported being turned down for a job because of their online presence (14% in the 25 – 34 bracket).
Incredibly, it was also reported that the majority (two-thirds) of young people are not concerned that their current use of social media could harm their future career prospects and, in spite of warnings from advisors, are not deterred from using it. Overall, there seems to be little consideration as to how a prospective employer may view an online profile.
Although it may seem like common sense to most adults, it is easy to forget that those under 24 have grown up with the internet. Smart phones and tablets have made it possible to report every aspect of life to a world wide audience, often without thought or consideration as to the potential consequences. Employers should not ignore comments made on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but when recruiting employees a sensible balance should be made between the requirements of the role and the online presence of the applicants.
Education will be key to minimising risks to young people. As we saw recently with the Kent Youth Police Commissioner, public criticism can be directed at the employer as well as the individual. Sensible and proportionate checks should be in place, but an overly conservative approach may mean that the best candidates for junior roles could be lost without good reason.
An individual’s professional online brand is set to grow in importance over the coming years as a personal presence has in the past 10 years. There is likely to be a shift towards closed personal communities and more open business communities as HR follows consumers online. Individuals should familiarise themselves with and make full use of privacy settings and exercise sensible caution before posting comments and photos – no matter how old they are.
The Young People’s Consumer Confidence Index was produced by OnDevice Research.
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