Corporate managers are increasingly looking at job applicants' social media profiles as a way to glean more information about potential hires, but some new research from William Stoughton, Lori Foster Thompson, and Adam Meade at North Carolina State says they should stop worrying if people have photos of themselves drinking or doing drugs:
Job applicants and incumbents often use social media for personal communications allowing for direct observation of their social communications “unfiltered” for employer consumption. As such, these data offer a glimpse of employees in settings free from the impression management pressures present during evaluations conducted for applicant screening and research purposes. This study investigated whether job applicants’ (N=175) personality characteristics are reflected in the content of their social media postings. Participant self-reported social media content related to: (a) photos and text-based references to alcohol and drug use; and (b) criticisms of superiors and peers (so-called “badmouthing” behavior), were compared to traditional personality assessments. Results indicated that extroverted candidates were prone to postings related to alcohol and drugs. Those low in agreeableness were particularly likely to engage in online badmouthing behaviors. Evidence concerning the relationships between conscientiousness and the outcomes of interest was mixed.
People with more drug-and-alcohol photos of themselves online are more extroverted (something companies are sometimes looking for in sales and marketing positions) and no less conscientious (something companies are presumably always looking for) than people without such photos. So relax.
On the other hand, Facebook badmouthers are low in real-life agreeableness.