Millions of people are on the hunt for their next job. From fresh college graduates to seasoned professionals looking to change fields, there is no shortage of job seekers in the trenches. To up the ante, an increasing number of employers are reviewing candidates’ social media footprint as part of their possible consideration for employment. While we can use social media to our advantage in our job hunt, it can also work to our detriment.
To help you land that dream gig or a corner office, fix the common mistakes you may make on social media.
1. Bad Grammar
We all occasionally misspell or make a grammatical error. It happens. However, a potential boss may be turned off by consistent grammar issues. Also, you may want to avoid casual slang and acronyms in any professional communications. From emails to word processing software, take note of those tell tale squiggly lines and utilize any spelling and grammar correction tools provided to make your communication crisp and professional.
2. Inappropriate Comments, Language, and Photographs
What we consider humorous varies. Thus, what makes you chuckle could make the next person cringe. In an age of increasing inclusivity and diversity in the workforce, bullying and harassment of others under the flimsy guise of humor is unacceptable. Consider your language. Cursing and swearing is a no-go. It’s also important to take stock of the photographs posted to your accounts. While that vacation to the beach may have been fun or you’re hitting it hard at the gym, you may want to reconsider that bikini shot or shirtless gym selfie as your profile picture.
3. Oversharing online
In the digital age, it’s almost second nature to click that Post button. We love to see a friend or family member share good news! Most times however, friends or followers don’t need to know the details of a breakup, the drama from your cousin’s wedding, why you’re on the outs with your best friend, or even the brutal one star review you left because the local fast food place forgot to put a straw in the bag. As a general rule, it’s best to avoid airing dirty laundry online. Oversharing gives the implication you are more concerned with seeking attention than seeking a job.
4. Controversy and Opinions
Proud member of your political party? Feel passionate about a social cause? Enthusiastic about the local club you’re in? It’s quite understandable that you’d like to express your opinion. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution when posting content others might find controversial, more so than ever in today’s climate. If it’s not a topic for the watercooler, keeping that opinion to yourself could be the best practice.
5. Not Having a Digital Footprint
While there is an array of faux pas outlined thus far, one of the biggest mistakes could be the opposite! We are well into the digital age, decades from the beginning of a new millennium. You don’t have to have an account on all major platforms, but having zero online presence can hinder your opportunity for a job you really want. It comes across as odd and even shady, leaving your potential employer to wonder what you may be hiding. At the very least, maintaining a LinkedIn profile can be beneficial with potential employers and may offer networking opportunities.
While resume is a good way for you to outline your duties and highlight your accomplishments, it can also be easy for anyone to add fake title and description. Perhaps your official title was team lead, but you thought assistant manager had a better ring to it. Your LinkedIn profile may look impeccable, but what if that resume says assistant manager and your online profile states team lead? However innocuous your intent, fudging your titles or credentials is an issue.
Another common mistake is lying for the reason you’re calling out of work. It never looks good when you share the photo of the beach at sunset when you were supposed to be home nursing ginger ale and crackers. Employers have a variety of transgressions that can be committed, and even white lies will be viewed as dishonest and untrustworthy behaviors.
7. Guilt by Association
Take stock of the accounts, pages, and groups you follow. What may have begun as a fun gaming forum could have morphed into a different page entirely and you did not even realize it. You still technically “like” it, even if their posts get lost in the void of your newsfeed simply because of the sheer volume of content flooding our apps everyday. Review groups you’re a member of or online comment threads you’ve engaged in and how a post or comment would be perceived.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have several social media profiles. Is there a way to look for potentially harmful content?
Yes! This is an excellent chance to scrutinize yourself online. Look yourself up. Be creative and search applicable variations of your name (e.g. Mike Smith versus Michael Smith) on different search engines as results shown will vary.
I googled myself and found content a prospective employer may find inappropriate, but I don’t want to delete it. What can I do?
There’s a fine line of content that an employer may view as unprofessional, but is not necessarily inappropriate in the general sense. This is where privacy settings come into play. It’s advisable to strengthen your privacy settings to allow only friends and accepted followers to see your personal postings.
It doesn't seem fair to delete so much of my content just to land a job. Isn’t there a middle ground?
Absolutely! Many platforms offer the option of archiving posts. It allows your content to still be available to you without having to remove it.
I’m on the job hunt and can’t spend hours on apps or websites. What should I do?
In more extreme and time sensitive matters, you can deactivate. It’s a chance to start over with a new profile to showcase your best and most professional self.
I enjoy social media and know what not to do. What are a few things to do to help in my job search?
Choose the message(s) you want to convey and align it with the appropriate platform, sometimes even cross posting. For example, if you’re in a more creative field, then Instagram could be useful in showcasing art or projects. Twitter is the place if you’ve got words of wisdom or a quote. Facebook is more of a jack/jane of all trades so you can create your own professional page or engage in online industry groups. TikTok is relatively new in the scheme of things, but is a great way to showcase your personality to potential employers.
Image credit: Unsplash
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