Mind your behaviour on social media
31 May 2021
This story is part of a series about the Talent100+ initiative.
Think twice about posting that goofy selfie online, it may hurt your future career.
That's the message from a research project that Dr Jos Bartels and his colleagues have been working on, as the researchers are looking at how people's behaviour on social media platforms influences organisations' recruitment decisions.
"What you post online not only has an effect in the present and on your friends, but it can also have an impact several years from now when hiring managers check your social media presence before you go to a job interview," says Dr Bartels, Associate Professor in Organizational Communication in the Department of Communication Studies.
The study reveals that people who post self-enhancing content on social media are perceived more positively by recruiters when compared with those who seek to self-verify online by sharing honest views of themselves or perceived weaknesses. "Our research shows that when people present themselves to be a bit more positive online than they actually are in real life, it helps them get more hiring recommendations. People like positive people," says Dr Bartels, adding that of course the candidates' skills should also match with the job's requirements.
Understanding human behaviour in the workplace
Dr Bartels, an expert in Communication Science from the Netherlands, is fascinated by the role of communication within organisations and the study of employees' behaviour. His main research interests include organisational communication, social identity and organisational identification.
To Dr Bartels, organisational communication is closely connected with our understanding of how people act and interact. He says, "What I like is investigating how people behave and why they behave the way they do, especially in groups, and the consequences of their behaviour in an organisational context."
In recent years, he has also delved into the study of the role of social media in the workplace. "Social media has influenced the way we interact with each other, not just in our private lives but also in our work lives," he says, quoting the examples of how social media has affected our work-life balance and how, in this day and age, someone can get fired over an offensive tweet.
However, he cautions against an overly negative view of social media. "When I look at the role of social media in our professional lives, it helps us stay connected and informed. Technology shapes people’s lives, but we can choose how we behave," he says.
A passionate scholar and educator
As an educator who is familiar with the use of digital technologies in teaching, Dr Bartels was well prepared for the shift to online learning when he joined HKBU last year during the pandemic. In fact, in Dr Bartels's eyes, the classroom has always been a place for innovation.
With more than 20 years of teaching experience, he has developed innovative pedagogies, such as starting lectures with online surveys to facilitate class interactions and integrating learning activities to effectively explain complex concepts.
While his experience with technology helps to foster an interactive environment in the classroom, a central part of his teaching philosophy involves the creation of a positive atmosphere where students are open to participate. "I've started some of my lectures here with pictures of me running in Hong Kong, and I've also shown students pictures of my hometown so they would know who I am as a person," says Dr Bartels, who maintains a sense of humour in the classroom and makes use of different opportunities to engage with students. "I try to get the students more involved so they feel comfortable sharing their opinions in class."
He has also developed courses and teaching materials based on his research topics, and his enthusiasm for education is palpable. "I like the topics I teach and research," he says, while also joking that he doesn't have any special tricks when it comes to teaching. He points out that an important part of a teacher's role is to guide students in learning and developing their skills. "I really like helping young people get better in their topics of study. My main goal in education is to try and help young people become the best they can be."