There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that having an active social media presence will actually aid your transition from one job to the next. Ensuring your experience and skills are well documented and searchable undoubtedly helps you to stand out from competitors and of course be discovered for relevant opportunities. However, social media is a mind-field and if used carelessly could have a detrimental effect on your job search. According to a recent survey carried out by recruiting platform Jobvite, 93% of hiring managers will look at a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision – a fairly terrifying statistic if you think about what might be lurking in the ether!
To help put your mind at rest, and ensure you avoid making some basic social faux pas, I’ve prepared some guidance which shares the nine things I would absolutely avoid doing on social media if you’re looking for a new job.
1. Leave your privacy settings as ‘open’
In this instance we’re talking Facebook; the number one place a hiring manager is likely to visit if they’re looking for a sneaky glimpse of your true personality. But, this is NOT the place to convey your personality to a potential employer! Worryingly Facebook has been in existence for over 10 years, and whilst we might not have been on it for the last decade, it’s a fairly long stretch of time for us to amas various embarrassing, inappropriate *why on earth did I do that?* posts, pictures and videos. Keep them for yours and your friends’ amusement and remember to set your profile settings to private.
2. Allow your well-intentioned friends to sabotage your ‘image’
We’ve all been there… one of our lovely friends decides to post something ‘funny’ on our social media profile. If it wasn’t bad enough that one of your relatives was seeing a picture of you in a compromising position, having the hiring manager of a role you’re pursuing ‘join in the joke’, really isn’t going to do your reputation much good! Either ensure your accounts are private or adjust your settings so you have to approve content that lands on your profile.
3. Choose an unprofessional profile picture
Whilst the selfie’s momentum shows no signs of slowing, opting for a LinkedIn picture that captures you poofing your hair and pouting in the direction of the camera really isn’t going to position you as the professional candidate you are (unless of course you’re applying for a modeling role!). Often when browsing the most corporate social media platform, LinkedIn, I am astounded at the choices of profile pictures in circulation; strange angles, bad lighting and inappropriate attire. If you haven’t got a professional headshot, simply opt for a head and shoulders picture that makes you look approachable but professional. Less really is more.
4. Forget the tone of the social platform
The beauty of social media is that we take different value from the various sites we’re using. For me twitter is a great way to get a realtime consensus of the publics’ opinion on current affairs, my favourite TV shows and celebrities that we all love to hate; LinkedIn provides a great platform to connect with my professional network and share useful resources; Facebook helps me keep in touch with friends; and Google+… well the jury’s still out. The point being that you need to adjust your tone and the type of content you’re sharing on each site for it to be applicable to the audience you’re engaging with.
5. Discuss your bad working habits online
Pulling a sickie, taking an extra hour for lunch or sitting on the Daily Mail website when you’re supposed to be working – you’re hardly breaking the law but what you will be breaking is the trust of a current or future employer if you choose to brag on social media about your bad working habits. It’s inevitable that some people will push the boundaries in their professional lives, if this is you then for goodness sake don’t document it online!!
6. Fail to proof your posts
The main draw of social media is that it’s realtime and enables trends, news, announcements, stories and updates to be dropped into our laps as and when they happen. The downside of this is that social media users act in an impulsive way and often forget to firstly think through what they’re writing, and secondly forget to proof their posts before firing them out! Attention to detail is a skill that’s commonly desired by businesses looking to hire. What kind of impression are you creating if you can’t write 140 characters without including a spelling or grammatical mistake? Proof your posts before you publish!
7. Knock your current boss or employer
If you’re looking for a new job then it’s not unfeasible to imagine that one of the key driving factors is that you don’t get on with your boss. A lot of people don’t! Where you’re really going to do yourself an injustice is broadcasting this fact on social media. Not only will you look disingenuous, you run the risk of creating the impression that you’re difficult to get on with. Not something a hiring manager is especially looking for in a new recruit!
8. Publicise overly controversial views
There’s nothing wrong with being opinionated. Most employers will see this as a good thing as it shows passion, interest and confidence. However, if your views are overly controversial and are of a political or religious nature, I’d highly recommend you refrain from posting them online during your job hunt. People are easily offended and the last thing you want to do is hit a nerve with someone involved in the selection process for a role you’re applying for.
9. Contradict yourself
Painting yourself in a favourable light online is something we all like to do. Who hasn’t put a filter on a picture and uploaded it because it makes them look better? I have no shame in admitting that I have! But when it comes to relaying your professional experience, failing to stick to the facts is only going to land you in hot water. Like I said before 93% of hiring managers are going to check out your online profile prior to making a selection decision, if your employment dates on LinkedIn don’t match your CV you’re going to raise serious concerns about how truthful you are as a candidate. Stick to the facts and avoid over-embellishing your experience, it will serve you much better in the long run.
My final piece of advice would be to Google yourself! See what an employer’s likely to find if they punch your name into their search engine. We’ve all got personal lives but let’s try and mitigate the risk of something careless and well-intentioned preventing us from taking the next step in our career journey.