Today the usage of social media has expanded from simple personal use to professional use for networking, job hunting, recruiting, and more. Knowing that perspective and current employers alike may be checking out your social media profiles, here are some tips for keeping things professional and helping you land that next job, whether or not you are even currently looking.
1) Create a profile! Today recruiters are searching social media regularly to find new talent, and if you don’t have a profile, you can’t be found. You will be missing out on opportunities to share your professional background and skills. Additionally, keep things up-to-date. For example, if you take a new job, update your LinkedIn profile to reflect the change in your career.
2) Have a picture, and a professional one at that. While you may have looked extra cute at that wedding last weekend or want to show those abs on the beach during family vacation, employers are going to be more impressed with a professional image. Your picture doesn’t have to necessarily be a formal head-shot, but make sure you are smiling, well covered, and using a clear photo.
3) Know where to draw the line on followers and friends requests. First, determine which social media outlets are for personal and professional use for you. For example, LinkedIn was created for and meant for professional use. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and others may be better forums for keeping in touch with friends and family. Once you decide what’s what for you, be cognizant of that when accepting friend and follower requests. Not everyone will have made the same decision as you about how to use that social media site, but you have to draw the line and stick to it if you’re keeping certain forums for personal usage.
4) Lock your privacy settings for your personal social media. You need to control what can be seen by those who are outside of your network as well. Far too often candidates leave their personal Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts and more open to some degree for public viewing. Anyone who knows much about social media and wants to learn more about you is going to find those public accounts, and thus see any public photos, tweets, status updates, and more. If you don’t know how to lock this information for your approved connections viewing only, dig into the site’s privacy settings page. It may take a few minutes of work to do this, but it is worth it to protect your professional dignity and image.
5) Search yourself every now and then. Employers will often simply search your first and last name using Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Do you know what they would find? Did you forget that MySpace account from college may still be active? While you may have left some things in the past, perhaps the World Wide Web hasn’t forgotten yet. If you find something you don’t like, research how you can take action to have it removed or cancelled if possible. Better late than never.
Social media can help you in a job search just as much as it can hinder you. At the end of the day, use your best judgment when creating and adding to your social media presence. You want to be sure you are putting your best foot forward before you even walk in the door of your future employer.