"Your first impression isn't made with a firm handshake -- it's with a Google search"
Dan Schawbel, author of "Me 2.0"
Never in all my years of being on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram did I think that the information I had made available
on those platforms might be used against me in the work place. If so, I may not have liked as many of the dumb pages that constantly floods my newsfeed with memes and dog videos (though I don't mind the dog videos). I also wouldn't have said some of the things that are posted online for everyone to see.
Social media for the younger generation has always been seen as a haven where you can go and say whatever you please with little cost to yourself. The only person you had to think about was yourself because it was your profile and people came there to see what you had to say. This, however, is no longer the case.
The internet has made everything easily accessible for the individual as well as the corporation, meaning that everything that you have ever posted for yourselves and your friends is now also available to the HR Department in charge of digging up information to make sure you are good candidate for a company. It is difficult to hide anything from these background checks.
This thought never crossed my mind until Katie Mehnert asked me if I had a twitter. Not thinking, I immediately gave her my twitter handle for her to look up, not giving any consideration to what I had posted. Luckily, Katie is extremely cool. Not only would my old twitter page have gotten some criticism from any other employer, it would probably make me lose out on the position. Not because I personally say anything bad, but because the stories being shared on my profile and on my friends profiles are not always work friendly. Social media is not free from crude language, and any time you retweet something, it is seen as a reflection of you. This doesn't seem fair to many people, but it is the world we live in.
Here are 5 ways to avoid embarassing moments like this:
1. Highlight your skills and involvement
Employers are looking to see that you are a well-rounded person involved in different groups, activities, and volunteer efforts. If you choose to leave social media content public, tailor the message to your advantage. Filter out anything that can tarnish your professional reputation and be sure to post communications, links, and photos that portray you in the best possible light.
2. Get active on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter
94% of recruiters are using LinkedIn to discover talent, while 65% are using Facebook and Twitter. Consistent involvement on these sites is an easy way to put your face, resume, skills, and experiences in front of recruiters. Join industry groups. Show future employers that you care about your field and are interested in learning more as well asn networking. According to Time Magazine, 4 out of 5 recruiters like to see membership and affiliations with professional organizations on a candidate's profile.
3. AVOID complaining about current or past employers
Even though all US Citizens are granted with freedom of speech, that doesn't mean you are free from consequences. Complaining about your job makes you seem unprofessional and ungrateful. Bragging about your job makes you seem arrogant. Use social media to congratulate others about their jobs instead. Your profile is accessible to many people.
4. Don't post anything that you wouldn't be comfortable sharing with your boss
Anyone from a boss to a client has access to the internet and it doesn't take that long to track someone down on social media. Social media is like your own personal brand and you need to sell your brand to everyone. Avoid making statements about politics, religion, or just heated debates in general.
5. Put your profile on private
If these four tips don't seem very helpful, go to your settings and make your profile private. Doing this only gives an extremely surface level view to employers and hides any "blemishes" you may have. Tailor your content for employers on the platforms they have access to and limit their exposure to any strong opinions, whether it's regarding politics and especially when its about a previous employer.
(Secret Tip #6: Get a cool, modern boss like Katie Mehnert who will use this as an educational moment and help you learn from your mistakes)
Comment below with any social media mishaps or tips!