Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the perfect, immediate channels to reach and connect with friends, family and people with similar interests but these platforms are also becoming increasingly popular with employers to recruit and monitor staff.

This is according to Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions – South Africa’s leading staffing solutions company within the white-collar recruitment industry. Vittee warns that, although social media can be helpful for career seekers to get noticed by potential employers, being conscious of what they post could determine whether they get – and keep – the job.

Vittee says, “With the growth in social media uptake, companies have access to more information on career seekers than ever before and are taking full advantage of these platforms to find and recruit top talent.”

“Keeping this trend of online and social media recruiting in mind, making a good first impression on social media profiles can make a candidate more – or less – attractive to both recruiters and employers,” she adds.

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On the other end of the spectrum, Vittee highlights that what both career seekers and employees post on their respective profiles can come back to haunt them if their potential or current employer stumbles across it online.

She says, “Although our work and personal lives are – in most cases – distinctly separate, comments on social media which touch on controversial topics as well as personal photographs of a career seeker’s social life may change a potential employer’s opinion of them and lessen their chance of securing the position.”

“A good idea may be to separate your profiles for personal and professional purposes, keeping your security settings tight on your Facebook page – only allowing your friends to view – and allocating Twitter or LinkedIn to share your professional insights and information,” Vittee adds.

Not only can social media posts impact employers in their recruitment process but Vittee notes that it can also cost employees their job if posts are found inappropriate or damaging by their employer.

“This is especially relevant if an employee posts negative, defamatory or disrespectful comments about his/her employer, company or co-workers which can result in discomfort or conflict in the workplace,” Vittee adds.

In terms of the South African labour law, an employee owes his/her employer a common law duty of good faith which includes a relationship of trust between employer and employee, as well as the understanding that an employee does not conduct himself/herself a way that damages the reputation of the employer.

“Do not be discouraged from joining the social media community and opening up potentially career-making doors: just be cautious when doing so”

Kay Vittee’s four social media profile guidelines:

1. Think before you ‘post’, ‘update’, ‘like’, ‘share’ or ‘tweet’

2. Check your privacy settings and be aware (and in control) of who can view your profiles

3. Manage and monitor your profiles so that you are able to delete or ‘un-tag’ unflattering posts or photographs in which you may be mentioned or ‘tagged’

4. Include and regularly update details of your education, work experience and career-specific interests on your public profiles (like LinkedIn) which are intended to reach potential employers

“Do not be discouraged from joining the social media community and opening up potentially career-making doors: just be cautious when doing so,” Vittee concludes.