When social media first started spreading around the world, no-one gave much thought to the long-term consequences of baring your soul on the Internet. Now there are warnings about what you should and shouldn’t share to keep you safe and avoid the attention of the unscrupulous, but there’s another potential problem that you may not have considered, and that is the effect of your social media profile on your job prospects. During the recruitment process, it’s common for employers to search for applicants on the internet to see if they can find out more about them. Social media profiles are usually quite high up the listings, and recruiters know that they can get a real insight into a person’s character by seeing what they’ve posted online.
Think about what you post
Keep anything controversial private. If you have your Facebook privacy settings correctly applied, you should have set most of your information as only being viewable by people on your friend list, so unless someone is on the list, they can only see basic information about you. It means you’re fairly safe to say what you like, but whenever you post, always check the “who should see this?” setting. This setting will default to whatever you last set it to, so if you posted something publicly about a new James Patterson book, for example, the next post you make where you are rude about your boss would also be public unless you amend the settings. One of the joys of social media is being able to say and post whatever you want, but keep in mind what impression your activity could make on someone you want to impress!
Looking the part
Whatever social media platforms you have a presence on, have a look at your profile or home page and make sure all the information which you can view publicly is accurate. If your resume says you attended Harvard and your profile says you went to Mesa Community College, you are unlikely to get a call-back. Next, have a look at your images and any artwork. There are some very useful online resources like the Facebook cover photo maker that can give your pages a striking, professional feel, so make use of anything that can help you improve your profile. Also choose your profile photo and feature photos carefully. You could get a professional headshot taken, which can be a great way of getting a flattering but natural photo of yourself. If you use a regular snapshot, you don’t have to make it formal, but do try not to look as if you’re under the influence or doing anything illegal!
When you’re looking for a new job, don’t just polish up your LinkedIn pages and think that’s all you have to do online. Your resume or application form should represent you at your best and will sell you to the recruiters, but if they then look you up on Facebook and see a photo of you with your underwear on your head, that will negate all the hard work you put into your application.