There’s no denying that social media plays a role in today’s job search process. Networking sites such as LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and even Facebook allow for both potential employers and job candidates to research one another. For candidates, these sites provide the perfect opportunities to read up on job opportunities and the interests, brands and stories tied to specific companies. Likewise, companies can research potential new hires outside of what is written on their CV or how they appear in the interview.
Horror stories have been told about candidates who completed perfect interviews only to be given the cut for a social media faux pas. So, how can job seekers prevent their social media presence from harming their job search efforts? What should be avoided in order to prevent bad impressions? Below, 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council provide their top tips for avoiding social media faux pas and making an impact with social media — in a good way.
1. Be Intentional About Posting
First impressions matter, and oftentimes your social media impressions ought to align with who you are. If you are going to use social media, be intentional and mindful of everything. The information you consume, share or create reflects who you are. Have a goal, adhere strongly to it and use social media strategically to amplify issues and perspectives that align with your core values. – Dr. Flo Falayi, Hybrid Leaders, Inc
2. Keep It Clean And Professional
Inappropriate use of social media can be considered “career suicide.” Think before you post and consider what the outside world would think from an objective viewpoint. Delete inappropriate photos and refrain from entering into online debates about topics that can diminish your professional persona. When it comes to your professional reputation, you are the perception you give to the outside world. – Wendi Weiner, Esq., The Writing Guru®
3. Make Your Posts Not Always About You
One of the most effective social posts I saw recently was of a COO in search who wrote on LinkedIn to employers about four other candidates he’d recently met — how fantastic they were, about their talents and successes and included the links to each of their profiles. He wasn’t talking about himself! How he did this said so much about his character and “hireability.” Putting others first counts. – Joanne Meehl, Joanne Meehl Career Services, LLC
4. Be Consistent, Clear And Concise
Establish your brand consistently across all social media accounts. Your voice, tone and imagery should all reflect who you are and what you stand for, and visual consistency is important. Be sure that any social media engagement reflects your skills and most importantly, provides value rather than simply filling empty space. – Tracey Grove, Pure Symmetry Coaching and Consulting
5. Take Your Digital Life Seriously
If you are seriously in a job search it’s time to take your whole life seriously. First, conduct a close inventory of your online presence. Remove any posts that you think will negatively impact how prospective employers would perceive you. Ask someone close to you for their assessment of your online posts as well. Second, stop posting things that you know will not present you professionally. –Warren Zenna, Zenna Consulting Group
6. Don’t Forget Tagged Posts
Everyone knows to clean up their online footprint and what should remain visible. But most forget about “tagged” photos and posts by family and friends. These by far are the biggest liability my clients face. I recommend performing a comprehensive public search of your name and social media profiles to see what surprises show up. Then quickly fix them! – Candace Barr, Strategic Resume Specialists
7. Put Yourself In Your Potential Employers’ Shoes
Before posting on social media, ask yourself, “If someone took a screenshot of this and sent it to my prospective employers, how would I feel?” If the answer makes you want to press backspace, backspace, backspace, then apply that rule to real life and do not post. Err on the side of caution. Just because your profile is private doesn’t mean that screenshots of your posts will remain private too. – Chizzy Igbokwe, The Art of Global Citizenship
8. Express A Clear Career Focus
One of the biggest mistakes I see on professional social media sites is the inability to express a career focus. Everything from your profile photo to the content you share defines your brand. Be sure to highlight relevant experience, accomplishments, awards, projects, publications and skills to focus your value-statement. Make sure all of your social media content is relevant to your focus. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC
9. Avoid Non Value Added Content
Since employers will often develop an impression of you based on your social media accounts, make sure you put as much value-added content on them as possible. Don’t be seen as a person who stays on social media all day with nothing interesting or helpful to say. Often times, less is just better. – Donald Hatter, Donald Hatter Inc.
10. Don’t Say ‘Seeking New Work’ In Your Headline
Besides the obvious misspellings, grammatical issues, tendency to gripe away your day on Twitter or poorly chosen profile photo, choose a positive headline that represents who you are, what you’ve done or ways you can help a business. Placing “seeking a new position” or “currently looking for work” doesn’t help your positioning. Showcasing your gap in employment can sound desperate to people. – Joanne Markow, GreenMason
11. Avoid Sharing Employers’ Competitive Intelligence
In sharing your accomplishments, consider whether the information will violate an employer’s competitive intelligence. This may include information regarding technology or product innovations, market development strategies, mergers, acquisitions or pending sale of the company. Potential employers check social media and may consider you a risk if you’ve shared sensitive information. – Beverly Harvey, HarveyCareers, LLC
12. Articulate Your ‘Good Impression’ In The First Place
In order to prevent making a bad impression, you should articulate what a good impression about you means. Jot down the adjectives that you want any public readers, including future employers, to know about you. This helps determine posts and photos that you share with the public. Keep anything that doesn’t support your personal brand private by utilizing the privacy setting of social media. – Amy Nguyen, Happiness Infinity LLC
13. Tone Down Politics And Personal Bias
If you’re not posting on-brand specific topics, your career and job search risks go up. Every day I see posts during the day on Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn on things political, personal and social. It may show personality but it risks demonstrating your bias and opinion on things that have nothing to do with why you may be hired. Stay on brand and resist strong political or personal opinions. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
14. Consider Anonymous Accounts For Some Activities
I have a colleague in the HR industry who loves to engage in vigorous political debates online through Twitter but her role as an executive recruiter could be negatively impacted by her lively debates. Her solution is a pseudonym for her political online engagement, which she never ever discloses to anyone in her professional life. This boundary gives her freedom in both realms without risks. – Jenn Lofgren, Incito Executive & Leadership Development
15. Google Yourself And See If You Like What You Find
I always encourage people to Google themselves (in incognito mode) — to see what is out there on the web. Then determine if what is out there is in alignment with your personal goals. It might be as simple as making your Facebook private or making your LinkedIn account open. Also, tools like BrandYourself can help you do a risk or reputation analysis for free to see if you have a problem. – Maresa Friedman, Executive Cat Herder