4 social media mistakes that could put off potential employers

Sharing our lives on social media is common practice today – could it cost you your dream job?

Celebrating weddings or Christmas parties, voicing political opinions, ranting about your boss – all of these things are shared across your social media sites.  Although social media is the avenue for sharing, how can you be yourself without offending your boss or co-workers — or losing your job?

In 2016, a report by CareerBuilder revealed that 60% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, and 59% of hiring managers use search engines to find out information on potential employees. The problem is that most of us think that posting on social media is still just a conversation among friends.

We need to remember that once something is posted on the worldwide web whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat — or even in an email or text — it belongs and is visible to the world. That Snapchat you thought would only last 10 seconds could become an image on someone’s phone in one second if they take a screen shot…

Although having social media profiles is a positive thing for both your personal life and from the viewpoint of employers as it shows you are up to date with the latest technology, the key is not to abuse it and to express yourself responsibly.

Here’s 4 things to keep in mind when posting on your social networking sites:

  1. Keep your emotions under control.

The old rule of thumb, “Don’t talk politics or religion,” comes to mind. Everything you say about these topics on social media will reflect directly on you.  Express your opinions respectfully and thoughtfully.

  1. Watch your tongue

Would you want your boss (or your grandmother) to read your latest post? Keep swearing out of it and don’t post suggestive photos (or get tagged). For every person who approves, there’s another person who doesn’t.  Particularly on Facebook – if your About section states your Employer’s name then you are representing them too when posting anything online.

  1. Stay off the topic of wok

“Working @company #misery #worstbossever.” We all need to vent about our jobs from time to time, but do it privately.  Chat to a friend over coffee, write it down and do a brain dump – just don’t share it with the world, and definitely don’t tag your employers into the conversation.

  1. Understand your privacy settings

Facebook allows you to set up different levels of access for friends. Group your work friends separately so co-workers can’t see every post or photo you’re tagged in.

If you do happen to make a social media faux pas, there are some ways to do damage control following a post or event that reflects negatively on you.

  1. Clean up your account

Remove any inappropriate posts as quickly as you can. If no-one’s taken a screen shot then it should be deleted permanently from most sites. Cleaning up is a better way than having to remove your entire account.

  1. Rebuild your personal branding

Using LinkedIn in particular – instead of talking about what you ate for dinner, post thoughtful narratives about your personal or professional passions. Think about and plan what you want your brand to be and what you want to represent to the world. Post about topics and discussions that coincide with this.

  1. Fix your mistakes

Many companies do Google searches on candidates and employees. Google yourself.  If you come up with negative results, take control of the situation by cleaning up as stated in point 1 as well as connecting with friends and colleagues to create a positive professional presence. Before you post, think about the footprint you’re creating and whether it could be a problem now or down the road. Consider the way that your actions or words will affect you— and others. It’s a good metric to guide your life on social — and off.

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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