When Emily Clow came across a job posting for a marketing position at an Austin-based company that helps entrepreneurs grow their business, she thought it could be a great opportunity for her to use her social media and sales experience.
But soon after submitting an application, Clow, 24, discovered that the potential employer was using her personal social media posts against her.
After asking Clow to fill out additional application materials, the company, Kickass Masterminds, took a photo of her in a bikini from her Instagram account and posted it to the company's story, warning other applicants to not "share your social media accounts with a potential employer if this is the kind of content on it."
"I am looking for a professional marketer - not a bikini model," the Kickass Masterminds story post read. "Go on with your bad self and do whatever in private. But this is not doing you any favors finding a professional job."
Clow tweeted about the experience Tuesday, saying she felt "objectified" and was "baffled" that the company would do such a thing.
Her tweet has since gone viral, garnering support from thousands of people online, including some who have even offered to help Clow find a job.
"The support is absolutely phenomenal," she told BuzzFeed News.
Clow said she was shocked when she saw her photo on the company's Instagram story and wasn't sure at first how to react.
"I felt like I was being objectified," she said. "She basically said, 'Hey, you can't post anything outside of work of you wearing a bikini,' which most girls wear at pools. Like, I don’t think anyone wears sweatpants to the pool or anything."
She asked the company to take down the post three times, Clow said, once via email and twice through Instagram messages. After her third try, the company blocked her on the social media platform.
Sara Christensen, the CEO and founder of Kickass Masterminds did not respond to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment.
In a Medium post published Monday, Christensen apologized to Clow, saying that she made "an error in judgement" when she made the Instagram story post.
"To anyone watching: I am a great case study in what NOT to do," Christensen said. "I have absolutely learned a lesson in this event, and while I’m not ready to publicly address it in detail, I will let you know if or when that changes."
The company's Instagram account has since gone private and its website, Twitter, and Facebook pages appear to have been taken down.
"I think them going dark is just interesting in itself because I think they realize they made a mistake," Clow said.
The company's LinkedIn page, which has also been taken down, said the firm worked with "rebellious business owners" who "yearn for freedom and are ballsy enough to chase after it" and who "want other like-minded people to have their back when shit gets tough," according to a screenshot of the company's page.
"I really didn't think that an employer that obviously showed interest in me ... would use me as an example of what not to do when applying for jobs and call me unprofessional," Clow said.
She said she posted about the experience to shed light on the issue.
"I thought this was a situation that I feel like a lot of women deal with on a daily basis when they're they’re job hunting," she said. "I figured that, 'Hey, I might as well talk about this,' because if I talk about it I know someone else is going through this and we can start a conversation and see if there's a way to fix the issue."