Tagged Today, Gone Tomorrow

It could be anything from a group photo of a drunken night on the town being posted on Instagram, to a Facebook status spewing bigotry and racial discrimination. Either way you need to be careful about what you broadcast online as it can give employers reasons not to hire you.  


We’ve all been warned about the far-reaching powers of the internet. Anything you post will forever be part of the world wide web, giving anyone a wealth of personal information that can be accessed within seconds. Although we’d like for what we post on social media to be taken as such (a reflection of our personality outside the professional space) one can never be too presumptuous. Web checks often happen in conjunction with reference checks; an administrative procedure to confirm an applicant's character. Web checks are generally not taken as seriously as reference checks because employers understand that their crew have personal lives. Their concern is that there be no threat that a crew member’s personal life will infiltrate the work space or taint the reputation of the yacht owner, captain, and/or rest of the crew. Many yachties, however, have resorted to changing their profile names in an effort to keep their personal lives hidden.


A 2013 poll found that 94% of employers use or plan to use social networks as part of their hiring process. Within the yachting industry Facebook, especially, and Twitter are social media tools used to locate candidates, as well as to weed out applicants who seem unprofessional or otherwise problematic. With dozens of qualified job hunters applying for most openings these days, employers often search for any excuse to remove candidates. A survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that the top reason employers reject candidates is for posting inappropriate photographs online. Content about alcohol or drug use came a close second. It seems even the most conscientious Facebook user could find themselves misjudged by a page they "liked" years ago.

Columbia University recently conducted a study that found all 65 Facebook users who participated in the study were sharing information in ways they did not intend. We assume that because we've adjusted our privacy settings prospective employers will not have access to the pictures, posts and comments we don’t want them to see. The settings on social media platforms are so vague and confusing; the efforts become futile.

Here are a few instances where you should think twice about posting:

  • If you have used your social network account to vent anger at businesses, former employers, your current boss or anyone else, remove them. Excessive complaining may make you appear to be a negative person. Employers don’t like to hire people who have poor attitudes.


  • The Golden Rule is that you never discuss politics, religion or money in social setting. Everyone has the freedom to their own opinion. You may have yours and if your employers’ is different it gives them a reason to cross you off the candidate list. At the very least, refrain from political posts that make you seem extreme or inflexible in your views. Such posts could make employers worry that you will have trouble getting along with co-workers.


  • Anything that could be interpreted as insensitive. This includes jokes that involve race, gender or sexual orientation and physical disability. You don’t want to give employers any reason to even consider the possibility that you might say or do something racist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory.


  • Arguments. Employers might worry that people who become embroiled in heated debates online could become argumentative in the workplace as well. Don’t show your temper online.

Don’t stress too much if you realize that you can’t totally clear your profile of all potentially damaging information. Web searches are taken with a pinch of salt. The hiring captains and employers who are offended by your online persona may not be the leaders you want to work with anyway. If you choose not to delete problematic posts your best bet is to add numerous posts and updates designed to create the impression that you are open to discussions and debates about topical subjects.

Hint: Take a fresh look at your social network pages, but taking the perspective of a prospective employer. What would you think about yourself if you saw your posts?

Now, what would you change?

To delete questionable posts, updates and tweets from social media for Facebook” Hover over the post in your Timeline. Click the V-shaped icon in the upper-right corner, then select “Delete.”
For Twitter: Go to your profile page; locate the post you want to get rid of and then click “Delete” for that post.

Ultimately, social networking sites are just that – social. Employers approaching them need to be aware that taking jokes out of context or viewing photos with an over-critical eye can lead to judgements that aren't representative of the whole individual. Similarly, one should be discerning of the manner in which they present themselves online. If not for the hiring Captains peace of mind, for your personal reputation.