Social media can be a minefield for professionals in any industry. From impulsive tweets to unflattering tagged photos, the potential for embarrassment is high. Whether you're conducting a job search or just starting a career, avoid these social media behaviors to maintain a positive reputation.
Go Totally Private
When an employer is vetting a job candidate, it's common practice to search through their social media accounts. Privacy settings shield your content, but they also withhold potentially valuable information. After all, your posts offer insight into your personality, thought process and activities — all items that can give recruiters a better idea of how you would fit into the company. If a company believes strongly in community involvement, for example, photos of your most recent volunteering projects could give you a competitive edge. During a job search, consider cleaning up your Twitter, Instagram and other social media posts to reflect the best of you, and turn off the privacy settings. On Facebook, you can control the audience for each post to cultivate a professional, well-rounded image.
LinkedIn is a key social media tool for job seekers. It offers the opportunity to back up the claims on your resume and provide more in-depth information. If your profile has been sitting unchanged for years, it could be hurting your chances at a dream job. Before you send out resumes and cover letters, update every section on LinkedIn so it matches and expands on your application information. Make sure that you're connected to past employers, college professors and other industry contacts. Then, demonstrate your expertise and enthusiasm by posting blogs, joining groups and participating in industry-related discussions. This process takes time, but it shows employers that you are engaged and dedicated to your craft.
Allow Public Tagging
Protecting yourself on social media isn't just about your own posts — it also involves policing friends' behaviors. One common mistake is allowing items you are tagged in to automatically appear on your Facebook timeline. Control your public image by turning off public tagging. To do so, visit the Timeline and Tagging section of the Facebook Settings menu, and change the audience for "Who can see posts you've been tagged in on your Timeline?" to "Only me." This step prevents potentially damaging tagged photos and statuses from automatically showing up in friends' news feeds. Keep in mind that tagged items are still visible to the original user's selected audience, and possibly the friends of other tagged people, so it's wise to keep an eye on friends' posts.
Depending on your actions, social media can be a benefit or a hazard to your career. With the right strategy, you can avoid common mistakes and use your profiles to convince employers that you are a great match for their company.
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