Talent Acquisition

How Can a Social Media Detox Hinder Your Job Search?

Have you heard about the recent social media detox trend? It seems to be all the rage to stop using social media, either temporarily or permanently, in an attempt to focus on living life instead of viewing it through a smartphone screen. As more people prioritize collecting experiences over collecting likes and retweets, they testify as to the freedom they feel, and how debilitating their online obsession had become.

As with most types of addiction, stepping away completely is often the only route to recovery. For someone who struggles with alcoholism, reducing one’s intake is not a viable solution. However, an important differentiator between social media and alcohol addiction is that social media has become an integral part of today’s business world, making up at least some of the job duties of thousands, if not millions, of employees. While an alcoholic cannot effectively work in a bar, how does a social media addict who feels the need to delete all their accounts fit into the hyper-connected business world when searching for a job?

In the eyes of many employers and recruiters, those who delete their social media accounts aren’t doing themselves any favors. While there are still plenty of occupations that don’t require social media, the number that do is still growing. Additionally, it continues to play more of a role in the recruitment process, with 70 percent of employers using social media to research candidates before extending a job offer, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. Though the exception would lie with job seekers deleting profiles containing offensive or damaging content, for most, a social media detox can hinder their employment prospects. Let’s look at a few questions social media helps hiring managers answer during the candidate screening process.

Can They Handle the Workload?

The ubiquity of social media has caused a shift in prioritization. For many positions involving marketing, sales or public relations, familiarity with popular social media platforms is just as important as computer and internet experience was a decade ago. When applying for these positions, applicants who are unable to demonstrate their experience to prospective employers through active accounts are already behind the curve. Do they have social media experience? If so, on which platforms? Have they used them professionally in a business context, or just socially? If only socially, do they at least post responsibly, or are their pages filled with hate-fueled rants? These are all questions an employer will want answered before hiring someone who will act as a brand ambassador for the company.

Can They Focus with Distractions?

Anyone who recognizes they have a problem and takes steps to remedy it deserves respect. However, when the problem stems from a dopamine rush caused by likes and retweets of selfies and cat videos, one must question whether or not the lack of self-discipline that necessitates deleting social media accounts is indicative of other distractions that could affect work productivity. For example, an inability to stop chatting with coworkers, discontinuing extended lunch breaks, or stop texting friends and checking personal email throughout the day. These can also cause a dopamine rush. The chemical reaction in the brain caused by social media use is far different from the chemical addiction caused by alcohol or nicotine. If the reason for the detox is discovered, some employers will simply see it as a sign of being too easily distracted.

Will They Be Successful?

In today’s job market, it’s a common belief that the resume is no longer useful. Despite the many changes and technological advances to the hiring process over the years (i.e., applicant tracking systems, resume sourcing tools, video interviews, etc.), employers still try to predict a candidate’s future job success based on a brief career summary printed on a single sheet of paper. This explains why so many have taken to social media to gain additional insight on applicants. Hiring managers stand to learn far more from the way a candidate interacts with others, the friends they keep, the subjects they post about, the comments they leave, and the attention to detail in their posts than could ever be learned from a static document. Job seekers who delete their social media accounts give those with an impressive online presence an advantage in the job market.

With technological advances occurring at an alarming rate, one need only look around a public park or event to find people ignoring experiences they once would have relished, choosing instead to post or tweet about them. Though there is validity in recognizing the ridiculousness of this trend and taking steps to remedy it, there is also something to be said for embracing technological advances in moderation.

For those who want to detox from social media, one could compare it to getting a tattoo. Those who are comfortably employed should already know what they can do without jeopardizing their career, while those entering the workforce or thinking about changing jobs could limit their prospects. In the end, job seekers considering a detox should make an effort to reduce their social media use without eliminating it, while optimizing their profiles for their job search. As with any other skill, their social media proficiency may prove valuable when least expected.

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.