It’s no secret that your social media profiles can show a side of yourself that you might not want employers to know about. Those shots of you doing shots? Your tendency for two-week long relationships? Your social media indiscretions may be hurting you more than you realize.
Even more, it could be an equivalent résumé, nicely paper clipped along with your references and portfolio. Should your potential employer check out your social media (or really anyone with an account), they might see someone that they’d rather not hire.
Although, most parties consider cyber-stalking future employees to be unethical, it’s still something that should be taken into consideration as you go through the application process. According to AOL, 40 percent of hiring managers screen interviewees on social media, and many reject an interviewee based on posts from social media.
Between your party pics, posts left without proofreading, or even a brief online rant about your current job, your future employer may decide that’s enough for you to end up in the “no-hire” pile.
On the flip side, AOL also mentions that future employers can also see your good qualities through your social media. These include how your personality shines through, a meticulous maintenance of a professional image, background information consistent with what you’ve already told them, your interests, communication skills (i.e. a well-thought out and grammatically correct update), creativity, and how your friends have communicated with you.
Just because your social media can help you, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch what you post and not moderate your tags.
Vicki Salemi from newyork.com gives a run down of six things not to do if you want a job:
1. “Don’t get too personal.” In saying this, she simply means beware of the overshare. While it’s widely understood that you shouldn’t post about your bowel movements, the trend of taking a picture of everything you eat and posting it may end with you in the job crapper. Salemi advises to keep anything about your dating, recreational, or anything else particularly personal off your social resume.
2. “Avoid negativity.” Basically, don’t hate on people or things, be it a celebrity, a passive aggressive post about someone you know personally, or a coffee shop that got your order wrong (they’re working hard, people, give them a break). You shouldn’t do this anyway, unless you’re talking to your mom or best friend, but especially keep your negative opinions off the internet.
3. “Keep it clean and avoid profanity.” You wouldn’t swear in the office (unless your office is really lax, but still), don’t swear online or use any other offensive language. Keep it classy, y’all.
4. “Be tactful when posting photos.” Not only should you watch the party pics, but even old pictures that don’t represent who you are now. Let’s face it–everyone had an awkward time in seventh grade, but your employers might not want to see it. And you wouldn’t them to be picturing your bad haircut from when you were 13 and naive to style while they’re interviewing you.
With this, Salemi also mentions keeping selfies to a minimum. While there’s nothing wrong with them or loving your face (in fact, I encourage it), make sure you have a balance between pictures of you and posts about other things. If you just have your face posted up everywhere, you might come off as conceited.
5. “Steer clear of bashing a former, current, or future employer or job.” We’ll get into this soon, but, in essence, don’t post your beef about your company. It doesn’t look good on either of you.
6. “Shun dishonesty.” Don’t overly exaggerate or embellish previous jobs, internships, or experiences. Just be straight up and honest (but not negative). Honesty is the best policy and, as any chick flick or high school movie goes to show, the lie will surface eventually.
But remember, the buck doesn’t stop at the hiring process. Even if you’ve already been hired, what you post could leave you once again unemployed.
From personal experience
I used to work for my university’s newspaper and, because our names were on our articles and sometimes we ran controversial stories or columns with our names on them, we didn’t want angry readers contacting us personally. Thus, we were told to put our Facebook profiles on lockdown: the highest security settings, only letting certain people through, and being sure to only post things that reflected well, not only on yourself, but also on the newspaper in general.
This was good practice for me. While I’ve never been much of a Facebook populator, it made me think about the things I was posting and keeping my company in mind. It’s key to remember that you are a representative of the company you work for. As soon as you put up on your LinkedIn profile or update your personal info on Facebook, you have placed a label on your head that you work for this company and what you do reflects back on them, both positively and negatively.
If you keep yourself professional on your social media and don’t bash your company, you’re golden. If you instead keep posting things like you’re a freshman in college and constantly rant about your co-workers or your job, you might soon be packing up your desk.
Politics, politics, politics
As one of the most controversial conversation topics out there, pay careful attention to the political things you post and share. While most companies (especially companies that twenty-somethings may be working at for their first job) tend to stay unaffiliated, make sure that they are truly neutral when it comes to certain topics. While you may not agree with certain values they hold, remember again that you are representing the company whether you like it or not.
To play it safe, avoid posting anything too political at all.
If you, for whatever reason, can’t even keep yourself from doing this, refrain from posting where you work on your Facebook profile and even consider changing your name. By using your first and middle name so your friends and family can still locate you, so your full name won’t be attached to anything.
Make sure that this is also true on your Tumblr or whichever other blogging platform you prefer, unless you’re working for a company that would want you to be blogging. Even then I recommend having a separate, personal blog with which you use an alias of some sort. You’re going to need to vent about something to the internet eventually–just make sure your real name and what company you work for are not included.
Whether you’re looking for a job or already have a job, remember that everything you post on the internet is public and anyone with an internet connection can look it up, including employers and job recruiters.
So keep it classy, keep it professional, but also keep it you. Your social media should be a positive reflection of you and what your potential boss would like to see in an employee.