In college, your social media community is mostly that – social. As you transition to your professional life, your social media presence needs to transition as well. It's not necessary to delete or hide your entire social media persona; employers want to see you are a person with hobbies and non-work related interests, too. Just use good judgment and be proactive about what you post, and you'll make a positive impression in an interviewer's mind even before you meet.
Anything you publish or allow onto social media about yourself can, and will be, seen by a potential employer, regardless of your privacy settings, so following these suggestions will ensure an online presence that is “profersonal” - both professional and personal.
Begin your job search by Googling your name. What you see is what your potential employer will see. Will the results help you, or hurt you, during the process? If the results don’t reflect well, clean them up. Take down posts that can be misinterpreted or just plain look bad.
Your position on a topic could be seen as an asset or a liability by prospective employers. If, for example, you frequently post about organic foods and local farming because you embrace nutrition and healthy eating, this could be intriguing to a potential employer. Conversely, taking a militant stand and harshly imposing your point of view onto others could be seen as risky and off-putting.
Have your own blog or thinking of writing one? Blogging demonstrates to others your interest in your profession and your enthusiasm for staying current with industry trends. Employers love to see that you are intelligent about your industry or area of expertise, and it makes you instantly more marketable. Just be sure to keep potential employers in mind when you post so their impression of you is knowledgeable and passionate – not brash and ignorant.
Seek out videos, blogs, tweets and influencers related to topics you’re interested in to show you are current and engaged in the trends relevant to your industry. If, for example, your profession is in cosmetics, post one of YouTube's two-minute makeup videos on Facebook or Twitter and comment as to why you like them. Also, take note where online your potential employer is most active and set up camp on those particular social media platforms. Companies engaged on Instagram may have a different set of business objectives and customer base than those on Twitter. Be mindful of where they are posting, if at all, Follow them, and be visible there. Also, Follow and Like influencers or leaders who have their finger on the pulse in your industry and repost their content with your professional opinion.
Triple-check the spelling of anything and everything you post on social media. Mastering grammar is important regardless of your profession. Your content could be thoughtful and interesting, but if it’s filled with errors, it takes away from what you are saying and a potential employer may take a pass.
Consider your image with everything you put out there. Sift through your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter photos; if you have to think twice about how a photo or comment could be interpreted, take it down. Too, ask your friends to do the same for any photos they’ve tagged you in that may be shown in a less-than-positive light.
Your likes and comments on social media are just as visible as your photos, so any and all indecent or offensive comments or likes can be detrimental to the way you are seen by others. Did you favorite a post that had profanity or retweet Katy Perry’s latest inappropriate quote? An employer might believe you approve or encourage similar behavior, which is a huge turn-off in a professional setting.
Your social profile is an extension of who you are. The personal and professional information you choose to share online is a reflection of who you are as a business professional and gives employers the opportunity to learn more about you, what you like and if you will be a good fit for the role. Show them you understand what a polished online persona looks like, and they can be confident you will exude the same savvy personality in person.
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