Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

Consider the consequences of what you post online

UAE recruiters are increasingly checking the social media of prospective employees

Social media accounts can be a first port of call for prospective employers. AFP 
Social media accounts can be a first port of call for prospective employers. AFP 

Back in the days of dial-up modems and Tripod websites, many of us believed the internet to be a new frontier, populated by borderless communities and underpinned by principles of open-source creativity and unfettered freedom of expression. Many elements of this techno-utopian view hold true today. It remains a forum where people from all over the globe can meet, bond over shared interests and broadcast their views to the world. However, it is not – and never really was – a place of consequence-free anonymity.

As the digital ecosystem has grown, it has become more integrated with our daily lives and far less opaque. Now, millions of people market themselves to potential employers and clients via websites such as LinkedIn. They are, in turn, only one step away from platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The dividing line between the personal and the professional is being increasingly blurred, making cyberspace a place where valuable first impressions can be made and career-derailing indiscretions revealed.

In Europe and the United States, it has long been common practice for companies to check the social media feeds of would-be employees. Now, according to a recent report in The National, UAE recruiters are following suit. Most do so to gauge a candidate’s skills, contacts and level of career engagement, but they can also uncover instances of inflammatory political rhetoric, sexism, racial prejudice and religious intolerance. “Many people are still not fully aware of the consequences of what they are posting and also that organisations are introducing these measures as standard practice in the UAE,” said Vijay Gandhi of Korn Ferry recruitment agency’s Dubai office.

As Mr Gandhi’s words imply, the internet is a particularly unforgiving environment, where careless comments can come back to haunt an individual many years later. With this in mind, it is clear that, far from viewing it as a rarefied sphere, where the normal rules of civility do not apply, we should all take extra care with what we say online. After all, if you wouldn’t say it in polite company, why take the time to type it out and post it for all the world to see.

Updated: May 26, 2019 09:02 PM

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