Job-seekers have been warned, time and time again, that what they say and post through social media sites can hurt their chances of getting picked for a job. For that reason, many folks have distanced themselves from the social media world by deleting any online profiles they ever created.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always serve as the smartest answer. An applicant’s absence from social media can also be a red flag for some employers. If an applicant’s name turns up no results on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, an employer may assume the applicant has something to hide. A lack of social media presence could also lead an employer to assume the applicant is not personable or not in tune with current events.

“In most cases, it’s completely irrational to consider whether somebody has a Facebook account or not,” said Lewis Maltby, President of the National Workrights Institute in Princeton. He hasn’t encountered such a situation in New Jersey.

Maltby noted, though, social media knowledge and experience can be crucial for some occupations, and employers could understandbly be turned off by an applicant with no online presence.

“If your job is in research and development, social networking has nothing to do with your ability to do your job. But if you’re in a job where knowing and being known is important, your boss will probably think it’s strange if you don’t have a Facebook account,” Maltby explained.

Over the years, social media has become crucial to success in several fields, such as sales and public relations.

“Not participating in social networking isn’t really an option,” Maltby advised. He said people in the workforce can be active online, but smart at the same time.

He continued, “If you have very strong views on controversial issues, you’re running a risk if you express them in a social network world because a potential employer could see them and hold them against you.”

Beyond that, applicants always have privacy settings.

“Any sane employer would understand that you don’t open up your whole page. Not everyone is your friend,” Maltby explained.

Employers have always tried to learn everything they can about potential employees, and the introduction of social media made that task much easier, but Maltby said potential consequences shouldn’t keep anyone from having an online identity.