One of the landmarks of the 21st century has been the population of social media, to such an extent that over 71% of internet users now have one or more social media account. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, it has never been easier to get online, almost every household in the first world has one computer and nearly everyone has phones. Secondly, the world is getting smaller in that people can get around more easily and frequently move further from family than in previous eras, meaning that there is a greater need to be instantly in touch with friends, family and colleagues. But it important to understand what social media means for you as an employee. The unfortunate and potentially dark truth behind social media is that it is a way for your employers to see what you are doing when not at work. It is even referred to during the interview process. Up to 70% of employers now vet potential candidates online before offering them an interview. As a result, if the content on your social media account is controversial or undesirable, it could very easily affect your employability. Below are three key things to avoid on your social media accounts that might scare off future employers.
The first and most important is the content you post or share. There are a lot of amazing and hilarious things being shared throughout social media, but it also has a dark undercurrent of offensive and sometimes illegal material. I like a risky joke as much as the next person, but sharing it online is a sure way of getting yourself noticed by employers for all the wrong reasons and is something to be avoided. Have a scour through your profile and have a serious think about its content; that post you shared of messy drunken nights or sexual nudity might have seemed funny at the time but your future employers won’t be laughing.
You can go too far the other way with this. Some people, out of worry that their accounts may be viewed negatively, delete their social media and live like some offline-nomad. This is a misconception as employers want to see you as a person. If you are worried about material on your account, then sieve through it! Yes, this might take some time but once it’s done - that’s it! If you have been reckless with what you’ve shared for years and going through it would be truly arduous, then it might be worth cutting ties and starting over. With current and future jobs, social media is playing a huge part and you need to show your understanding and ability to use it.
A final thing to bear in mind is how you sound on social media. We can all be forgiven for using slang, profanity and abbreviations in text messages to friends, but that’s not what your employer is looking for. Due to text-language, grammar is slowly becoming a lost art and you will stand out if what you write reads well. When typing comments, statuses, tweets - whatever - make sure you spell check the text. You want to come off as professional and articulate as possible without sounding too much like a walking dictionary. Stick to a language you’re comfortable with but always make sure it’s spelled correctly.
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