25/01/2013 11:49 GMT | Updated 03/03/2014 03:59 GMT

Effects Of Social Media On Job Prospects

An MP who turned down a student applying to his office for work experience over a foul-mouthed tweet has issued a warning to others applying for jobs.

The unnamed pupil was rejected by his local MP Richard Graham after applying for work experience as part of a school project. Although Graham says he is "normally always happy" to give pupils the opportunity to work in his office, the Gloucestershire representative spotted a tweet from the teen, which read: "Don't this f***ing school realise I don't want to do work experience."

The MP wrote to the pupil, telling him: "I'm sorry but I am turning down your request because although your letter and CV were acceptable, your attitude to your school and life in general on Twitter is inappropriate," The Citizen reported.

"Please be aware that your entries on social media reflect on you, and that potential employers do take them into account when considering your interest. Responsibility does matter.

"I encourage you to take a different approach over the next year."

It is easy to dismiss this student's behaviour as foolish and naive but a surprising amount of employers have rejected a candidate because of something posted on a social networking site - nearly 70%, according to a 2011 study.

According to the research, a huge 91% of employers use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to screen candidates. A further:

  • 13% rejected a candidate because they lied about their qualifications
  • 11% rejected a candidate because they posted inappropriate comments
  • The same amount rejected a candidate because they posted inappropriate photos, with another 11% rejecting applicants because of posting negative comments about a previous employer
  • 10% were rejected for posting content about them using drugs, while 9% were rejected for posting content about them drinking

Olivia Piepe, from told HuffPost UK: "Social media is an incredibly useful tool in a jobseeker’s armoury. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can be used to create valuable links with potential employers, join in conversations, develop your knowledge, get industry insights, develop your commercial awareness and even find out about live job opportunities.

"However, people need to be aware of the digital footprint that they leave behind and what message that portrays. You wouldn’t show interviewers pictures of debauched nights out at university, why would you leave that information open for them to find on the internet? If you create a positive online presence with a well-looked after Facebook page (perhaps with high privacy settings), a professional LinkedIn profile and an interesting Twitter account, you’re much more likely to be able to use social media to your advantage.”

Swansea University previously warned its students they were damaging their job prospects by posting offensive material on the "Student Confessions" pages.

In November, university registar Raymond Ciborowski released a joint statement with student union president Tom Upton, which read:

"University regulations clearly state that it is a disciplinary offence to engage in behaviour which could bring the university into disrepute – this includes social media activity.

"Students are sharing personal information (including explicit content) with an anonymous page administrator, who has no accountability. There is no evidence that the page administrator is even a fellow student. As a result, participants’ personal details could potentially be made publicly available – for viewing by fellow students, staff, public, press, potential employers, etc.

"Companies are increasingly searching for information on job applicants and the organisations they are connected to – already 30% of UK HR Directors use social media to recruit candidates, and 22% check candidates’ online activity.

"The Internet and social media are governed by laws relating to defamation and public order, and as a result, there is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech."

Concerns raised by making your private life public have led to programmes being developed to avoid incidents such as those mentioned previously.

Michael Sprague, who co-founded "scrambls", which allows Twitter and Facebook users to customiser and control who sees their tweets, told The Huffington Post UK: "While I wouldn’t encourage young people to be intentionally disruptive or irresponsible on their social media channels, services such as scrambls allow them to ensure that inside jokes and comments remain in their friendship or family circle and out the hands of prospective employers.

"By allowing users to select who specifically can and cannot see a particular tweet, power remains with them. This greater control enables greater use of social media. You can post and tweet confidently, knowing your potential employer won’t see messages meant for friends, and permanent records of what you say online won’t come back to haunt you in the future."

With recent figures showing the number of unemployed young people has more than doubled, perhaps we should be taking a long hard look at our social media footprint.