Social media has been a major part of our existence for years now. It is a major vehicle of our communication and it is the way we ask the world to understand us. Our profiles and photos are direct portrayals of our personalities and daily activities. We are willing to give friends and perhaps those we don’t know a glimpse of our latest outfit, our lunch, or political thoughts and share it within a matter of seconds. All it takes is a quick click.
But here is the caveat. It isn’t just friends or acquaintances that will search for you. Businesses are hyper aware of this too. Before a potential employer meets you for an interview they will look you up on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They want to know what to expect in advance and get any background information possible. They are looking to understand your personal brand through your photos, statements and activities. These are indicators of who you are.
So, while social media can be a great avenue to connect with people, it’s important to be smart about how we brand ourselves. Sadly, unfortunate social media choices have ruined job opportunities and current positions. The best choice is to keep it clean and remember that your social media profile is your brand. Here are three ways to successfully manage your social media footprint:
1. Keep it Clean. Don’t post photos of yourself or even friends in revealing outfits or questionable poses on Instagram or Facebook. Sure, we have all taken fun pictures in the moment. Maybe it was after a cocktail, and suddenly you think that some crazy pose with your friends is a really good idea. However, it is too easy for others to get a hold of such photos. Your photos are entirely protected to just your group of friends. Friends have other friends, and those friends have friends. Bottom line, all it takes is a screenshot and a quick text to share it with those you never thought would see.
Quick Tip: Keep your social media pages on private and ask friends to not tag you in photos on their social media pages.
2. No F-Bombs Allowed. Not on social media anyway. The way you use your language on social media is an indicator of how you speak to people. If it is brash and full of vulgarities, it is a sign of how you communicate with others. And, as that potential employer checks you out on social media, they certainly don’t want to find that your language is not something they would want to see in a company memo or in a meeting with a client.
Quick Tip: Before you consider using profanities on social media, consider what your grandparents would think!
3. Keyboard Confidence. Social media arguments have become so common in recent years – especially with all of the focus on race, gender and politics. These conversations are fierce, emotionally charged and can be plain ugly. Emotions are high and people are hot to argue their point. I think we can all agree that sitting behind that keyboard can give you a false sense of security. After all, no one can see you as you type away. Nor will you ever see the person on the other side. Pretty safe, right? So, say what you want!
Not so much. Getting in these arguments or heated debates only generate anger and frustration and may have you type something you’ll later regret. Really, have you ever changed anyone’s mind in a Facebook debate? All of this said, current companies or hiring companies will find this or know someone who can. No organization needs to see your participation in a heated thread and lose your cool. Again, it just takes a screen shot and a quick text.
Quick Tip: Before you post, think. Would you say it face to face? Or, would you say it a in the office or in a court of law?
Next time, before you post, think about what it means, how your words impact others and what your photos portray. We live in an uber-connected world and you never know when your next employer will stumble across your online presence. It could be the difference of landing the job or keeping the one you have. Be smart.
Holly Caplan is an award-winning manager, workplace issues expert and author of Surviving the Dick Clique: A Girl’s Guide to Surviving the Male Dominated Corporate World. For more information, please visit, www.hollycaplan.com.
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