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You’ve just gotten home from a bad day at work. Maybe you had a frustrating experience with a client. There’s no one around to talk to, so you vent your feelings on social media.
Does this sound familiar?
Many of us have turned to social media to rant about work, politics, friends, family, sports—you name it. And while it may feel good at the moment, words said in anger can come back to bite you.
Social media has become an important pre-employment screening tool for employers. One study showed that seven in ten employers used social media to evaluate candidates. More specifically, half of the employers who use social media as a screening tool said they did so to evaluate a candidate’s professional online persona.
The internet keeps receipts.
Is This Legal?
In short, yes.
Employers are allowed to use social media for information not usually found during the traditional interview process to gain a deeper insight into candidates. A social media background check can often determine if an applicant would be a good cultural fit for an organization. Employers nowadays are actively trying to avoid creating a potentially toxic work environment.
To avoid issues of bias, for example, organizations will often enlist a third-party background screening provider to conduct a social media background check. A good background check service will understand all relevant privacy regulations, shielding the company from scrutiny.
Resist the Rant
This means that employers searching your social media channels will see those angry rants you posted. There are several reasons why this can make you look bad:
· Anything referencing a former employer, colleague, client, or customer will make you look unprofessional.
· Things said in anger can be misconstrued. You may say something inadvertently offensive, making you seem like a toxic individual.
· Even if it’s something harmless, like ranting about your favourite sports team losing, rants are rarely well articulated. A grammatically sloppy block of text full of expletives will also make you seem unprofessional.
Even if you don’t say anything particularly egregious in any of your rants, you may end up just coming across as a miserable individual. You could have plenty of insightful, positive things to say, but if your social media presence is just full of angry rants, employers will only see your negative side.
And no one wants to work with a whiner.
A More Thoughtful Approach
Does that mean you can never say anything critical on social media? No, of course not. In fact, framing criticism thoughtfully can demonstrate creative thinking. It’s a matter of how your frame it.
For example, maybe you’re upset about something a politician did. The knee-jerk reaction is to share some silly meme on social media with an angry rant attached to it, full of ad hominem attacks no sensible person would ever say to another individual in real life.
Instead, what if you took a moment to consider what’s making you so upset and frame it as a piece of constructive criticism? That would show you’re a critical thinker and an effective communicator. Now you’ve turned a negative into a positive.
When You Need to Blow Off Steam
Of course, that’s all easier said than done. In the moment when you’re really mad, and you absolutely must vent your frustrations, it can be hard to get some perspective. What are you supposed to do then?
Try writing out your rant but just don’t post it. Expressing your thoughts will be cathartic and can help you calm down. Then, once you’re finished and you’ve had time to decompress, you can think about rephrasing your rant into a more thoughtful post—or you can just delete it.
Long before social media, Abraham Lincoln did something similar. He called it the “hot letter.” Whenever he felt like telling someone off, he’d compose an angry letter and at the bottom write: “Never sent. Never signed.” This allowed him to vent all his frustrations without dealing with the repercussions.
Some of our current politicians would be wise to follow Lincoln’s example.
A Less Negative World
Even if you’re not on the job hunt, being more mindful of what you post on social media is always a step in the right direction. I think we can all agree there’s too much negativity out there on the internet. You might be surprised by the impact you can have on the people in your network by being more positive.
You may also like: Do we need background checks for new employees?
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