When I came across this article in Forbes around a state law in Oregon prohibiting businesses to require employees to be on social media, I thought to myself, “Um, can anyone actually make you be on social media?” Turns out, yes.
In many at-will employment states, employers don’t have to necessarily give a reason (as long as it’s not illegal or discriminatory) to not hire a person - or to fire them. So, if someone is applying for a job, and their employer can’t find them on social media - they won’t hire you.
I know a few people who, when they are applying for jobs, deactivate their social media accounts or heavily turn on their privacy settings (although, seriously, if anything you are doing or saying on social media is THAT bad or THAT in need of privacy, maybe you should do those things prior to applying for a job? Just my opinion.).
Although at first I bristled at this finding: I don’t want to work for somebody who insists I be on social media, but it actually makes a lot of sense. If you are hiring an accountant, it might not matter. If you are hiring a PR coordinator or a Marketing Manager, they are going to need to have knowledge of said social media accounts and/or have the contacts (via LinkedIn) required for their role.
All of our social media accounts can act as a type of resume in today’s boundaries-starved world. When I think back to my last position as a marketing director, I remember my manager said she had looked me up. She didn’t (and wouldn’t) find a Facebook account (it had been deactivated in 2011), and she struggled to find my Instagram because I didn’t use my full name in my profile. (Today, I use only my initials). It did not dissuade them to bring me in for an interview, and during the interview is when they asked me about my social media accounts.
I was honest: I wasn’t on a lot of accounts personally, but I had been familiar with them in the past and I completely understood that I would need to reactivate my social media accounts, or operate under the name of the organization for some accounts in order to be successful for my job.
I was applying for a marketing position, after all. If I literally wanted NOTHING to do with social media, I needed to look for a different career path.
Although this is not surprising news for marketing employees (just part of the territory), I began to question if it was really necessary for ALL employees? And, now that I’m thinking about, I think in 10 or 20 years, it might be. My 93 year-old grandmother doesn’t have an email address - and never has. If, for some crazy reason, she decided to get back into the workplace - an email account would definitely be necessary. Today, social media is just one more way for people to connect with you - much like email. So maybe that’s where social media is trending - and not just for marketers - but for all of us.