In the last decade the internet and social media have changed our lives significantly and revolutionized the employment landscape. A plethora of information – wanted and unwanted – is always available at our fingertips, from information on job vacancies, and an individual’s career history, to the most personal details about your everyday life as oversharing has become the norm. Privacy is a prime concern as increasingly the information you make publicly available has the power to make or break your career. We have all seen or heard stories of people losing jobs because of material posted in the public domain. However, what we do not hear about are the instances where job seekers have missed out on a job offer because of what recruiters found when they did a social media search. Anything there is fair game and while you have freedom of speech and expression you are not free from the consequences of your posts.
…the information you make publicly available has the power to make or break your career.
While job seekers are advised to research a prospective company it is also common practice for employers – prospective and existing – to research potential and current employees. It is important therefore to consider all of your online behaviour, posts, tags, comments, photos etc. through the lens of a potential employer. Your social media footprint gives insight into your personality, character and attitude and demonstrates behavioural traits employers can use to assess your compatibility with the company culture and/or the role. Therefore the image you create on social media can disqualify you from a job even if you otherwise qualify.
Here is a list of social media No-Nos:
- Posts about drinking or using drugs
- Provocative or inappropriate photos
- An unprofessional screen-name
- Excessive negativity in posts
- Bad-mouthing a previous or current employer
- Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion
- Sharing an offensive viewpoint
- Inconsistencies and discrepancies regarding qualifications and employment dates (ensure online CV matches offline CV)
- Links to criminal behaviour
- Excessive profanity
- Sexually-explicit material
- Poor communications skills – bad grammar and spelling
- Scathing posts that call into question your approach to conflict and communication
- Frequent posts during working hours raise questions about your focus and productivity
- Sending LinkedIn connection requests or friend requests to recruiters before being offered the job
…the image you create on social media can disqualify you from a job even if you otherwise qualify.
Social Media Dos
- Censor yourself. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t say to a room full of people.
- Use social media to create a positive personal and professional brand. For example, you can use Instagram to show your passion for your sector or industry and related interests. This may include your attendance at trade shows, events or networking groups, visits to relevant locations, offices or facilities.
Through Twitter you can demonstrate your interests and expertise by tweeting about a webinar you found informative or a new industry development you are passionate about.
LinkedIn in particular represents a large part of your personal brand as regards to your career so make important connections, join relevant groups, post frequently (keeping it professional and related to your job/industry) and update your profile regularly. You should also add links to your work throughout your profile.