Prehospital professionals risk being nixed for job opportunities based on misuse of online social media, a survey of healthcare managers suggests. Results from a CareerBuilder survey indicate around 33% of healthcare organizations actively research a job applicant’s online profile before hiring. The impression that online appearance leaves may ultimately determine whether the candidate is hired or passed over. CareerBuilder is an online clearinghouse of jobs for both employees and employers, offering career advice, résumé-writing assistance and profile-improving resources.
EMTs and paramedics are in the obtrusive position of being the youngest among allied health and public safety professionals. The mean age of prehospital providers is 35, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.(1) Social media awareness is more important than ever, given its prevalence among this age group. Information published publicly on these sites can be scrutinized by everyone. In fact, social media sites are subject to the same libel and defamation laws as printed media.
Chief of the New Mexico EMS Bureau Kyle Thornton, EMT-P, says despite being legal, unscrupulous behavior on such websites as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn or Myspace, may cast a potential employee in a negative light.
“It would be my advice to a potential employee to try and remember that virtually anything and everything they post is potentially viewable by more people than they ever dreamed of. Every opinion they have—and especially how they say it—has the potential to have completely unintended consequences. Although they have the freedom of speech, others have the freedom to form impressions from information available,” Thornton says.
Some of the top reasons for not hiring applicants based on their social media profile included admission of drug or alcohol use (49%); lascivious photos or behavior (45%); unprofessional screen name (29%); negative comments regarding past employers (26%); and derogatory comments based on race, gender, religion or other socioeconomic factors (23%).
On the other hand, social media may be used to bolster a candidates’ application, fleshing out an otherwise impersonal resume. “Simply creating an image of modesty, honesty and moderation may indeed foster an impression that this is also how the individual will be as an employee,” Thornton says. “If there is a sense of positivity in their postings, this will play well with potential employers who are doing a soft investigation of a candidate.”
Almost 24% of healthcare employers say a positive online impression has culminated in a new job. Some of the top influencers include creativity (48%), personality (43%), communication skills (42%), and well-rounded, diverse interests (41%).
The editors at CareerBuilder offer the following additional suggestions to professionally improve your online profile: Regularly check your privacy settings, because websites change these policies frequently; be aware of comments that may inadvertently be linked to your online profile; and perform a name search on yourself to assess for negative associations, addressing those promptly and appropriately.
1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (June 2008.) EMS workforce for the 21st century: A national assessment. Retrieved on July 6, 2013, from www.ems.gov/pdf/EMSWorkforceReport_June2008.pdf.