Navigating Social Media in the Professional World

These days, everyone is on the internet: your grandma, your neighbor, your dog. However, the people on your friends list aren’t the only ones who can see the content that you post. If you’re job hunting, chances are that potential employers are taking a look at your profile. According to a 2018 survey taken by CareerBuilder, 70 percent of employers use social media as a way to check out potential hires, and what they find on your page can be what sets you apart from other candidates or what makes them look for someone else.

In the modern era, cultivating your social media presence to attract employers is vital in becoming a worthwhile candidate for any job. Creating an online presence for yourself may seem simple. A common mindset is to just post things you like and your personality will automatically shine through. But a funny meme or controversial post are probably not beneficial to creating a professional image. Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or have a blog that you update regularly, the persona, or online personality, that you create is giving complete strangers information about who you are and what you value. If this is the only information that people have to judge you by, are they seeing you in a flattering light? Are you putting your best self out there?

When creating a new social media presence that future employers will be impressed by, keep these steps in mind: 

Be appropriate: This is the most crucial part of tailoring your social media presence. Employers are looking for potential red flags, any reason they shouldn’t hire you. Avoid posting content that may be seen as provocative or distasteful. Finding proof of heavy drinking, drug use, or criminal activity have been shown to be strong deterrents for employers. If you aren’t sure if your post qualifies as inappropriate, here’s a rule to keep in mind: don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your mother to see. 

Be genuine: Your resume only tells so much about you. Employers want to know more about who they could be hiring to make sure you would be a good fit. Let your personality shine through on your social media account. Are you an avid sports fan? Great! Let the world know. Do you have a big, wacky family? We want to see it! Employers want to know that you are a multidimensional, well-rounded person. Be true to yourself, post about your life and your interests, and the rest will fall into place naturally.

Be respectful: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. No company wants to hire a cyberbully. It is important to keep your content positive and kind. Don’t post about polarizing issues if you can’t keep the comments from becoming a war zone. It may be best for you to keep your controversial opinions off of the internet.

Be positive about previous employers: No organization wants to hire someone that may talk bad about them online. If you had a bad day at work, it may be tempting to let your feelings out online. However, the consequences of posting will live on past the high emotions that led you to make that post. When you are representing a company, respecting the boundaries between work life and social life is crucial in maintaining a professional persona. Keep in mind that you never know who might see your post. If you find yourself about to submit an angry post, take a minute to breathe and evaluate if this is the image of yourself that you want others to see. 

Be relevant: It’s important to keep up to date with the goings-on in your desired field. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion on any new developments that interest you. Show that you are passionate about what you do. Let your interest in your work extend past your job. Show potential employers that you are dedicated to your work and that you know what you’re talking about.

If you’re looking at this list and are starting to become worried about the content you’ve posted in the past: don’t panic. You don’t have to delete your whole profile, just go through and review to make sure it shows the version of you that you want people to see. However, this isn’t something you can do once and be done with forever. The persona you create shouldn’t drop once you’ve been hired. Employers often still keep an eye on your profile during your employment to ensure they made the right choice and that you are reflecting the values and image of the company. When posting, continue to follow these steps to maintain the image that drew your employer to you in the first place.

This post was written by our intern Kim Stuart.

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