Canadian employers are using social media to screen job candidates

Edana Robitaille
Published: April 28, 2023

Canadian employers are checking out potential job candidates on social media before offering a job or sometimes even an interview. This applies to both newcomers and Canadians alike.

In January 2023, a survey was conducted by the Harris Poll, a global consulting and market research firm, on behalf of Express Employment. Express Employment is a leading global staffing provider. The survey found that more than 60% of Canadian companies (65%) say they screen a candidate’s social media. Among this group, 41% said they have found content on a job candidate’s social media that caused them to not offer them the job.

Refining and editing your social media should be a priority in the initial stages of your job search. Some employers start checking a candidate's social media early in the process while others wait until the final stage of the hiring process.

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What are employers looking for?

Jessica Culo, the owner of several Express Employment Professionals locations in Edmonton, spoke with CIC News about some of the things to watch out for on social media as a newcomer. She said that when a potential employer is checking social media, they are looking for “Any red flags such as inappropriate, unethical, polarizing, or extreme comments or photos. I have seen employers not hire candidates because they have very strong political views being displayed to excess online.”

She says that newcomers, and some Canadians as well, may not grasp that strong political or religious views can “send an image that turns employers off.” She says this can be a bigger issue for someone that may have fled an unstable political environment [and] may be more inclined to take part in political conversations or online debate.

This does not just apply to your LinkedIn profile, which employers typically review to get a sense of your professional experience. Culo says potential employers are most likely to check whichever social media profiles appears on a google search.

Social media monitoring does not stop after being hired. The Harris Poll data notes that 86% of employers said they would fire a current employee who creates any “inappropriate posts.” Employers define this as something that is damaging to the company, reveals confidential information, or promotes illegal drug use.

One piece of advice Culo offers is to keep your social media profiles private where possible. “If social media does not have to be public for the nature of the work that you do, I would say private is better.” A private profile means potential employers are not able to see everything you post.

Things to watch for

It may be helpful to keep a few things in mind if you prefer to keep your social media public. “Spelling and grammar are very important.” says Culo, “It affects the validity and credibility of your posts. Grammar and spelling errors can be off-putting for potential employers.”

Culo advises keeping a similar personal “brand” across all profiles. “Think about the image you want to have and what you want your brand to be - and by that I do not mean that a personal brand should differ from a professional brand,” she says. “It should be one and the same and stick to that. For example, your Facebook profile should not portray your ‘unprofessional self’ while your LinkedIn is ‘professional.’ Be consistent across all social media platforms.”

Her final advice is to embrace social media as a tool for finding employment. “You don't need to be afraid of social media. Use social media to connect with employers that you want to work for. It can be a powerful tool! It just has to be used responsibly, with discipline and intent.”

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