Hopefully, by now, we all know that when we apply for a job, our potential employers are bound to do a background check on us. This doesn't mean they'll just check to make sure we are who we say we are- they're checking our social media. When an employer needs to ensure you're the right person to employ and represent their company, they'll look up all your social media accounts to gather what type of person you are. How your social media represents you can make or break your chances at a job.
One of the best recommendations I could give you is to make every one of your social media accounts private. Even if your accounts present you in a good way, you never know what old post or photo a potential employer could find and how they could interpret it. It's better to be safe than sorry while you're job searching and change all of your accounts to private. This way, people that search you online will have to learn about you, as a person, instead of the perception of you that only your photos can show. Another added bonus to this is that you won't have to worry about strangers stalking you based on any slight piece of information you post about yourself online.
Easy To Find Account Names
When the time comes that you've applied to a job and the employer starts to search for your social media accounts, it's helpful if they can find them. Having an account name that's easy to find makes it optimal and quicker for the employer searching you than if your account name were something with no correlation to your real name. Creating an Instagram account name with something silly such as, "RockGirlz2567" would make it harder to find you than an account name that's simply your first and last name. Understandably, sometimes we create these social media accounts when we're much younger but if the account name doesn't correlate to your actual name, it's best to create a separate account entirely for professional connections.
No Drunk Photos
Even if it was your first time at a party and you want to memorialize that fun night forever, social media isn't the place to do it. If you appear even the slightest drunk, it can quickly create a negative perception of you- especially if you're under 21. It's probably best not to post those photos you took with your girlfriends in the bathroom of a party after hours of drinking. If you happen to take any photos of you partying or doing anything illegal, be sure to never post it online because the possibility of someone taking a screenshot is still a thing. If anything, holding a glass of wine or beer at a restaurant while celebrating a special occasion with friends is a much better way to post a photo related to alcohol.
Body confidence is evolving in the world today and people should always feel proud and comfortable with how they look. With that being said, how we portray ourselves on social media can create different perceptions for people who don't know us outside of our photos. The mindset I try to have is that if I wouldn't want to show my grandparent a specific photo, I shouldn't post it on social media. While body positivity progresses, the expectations with body photos can become a grey area. The most important thing to keep in mind is that while you're proud of how you look- which you always should be- just be sure that what you're posting is also something you'd be proud of your boss to see.
We've all heard of a few celebrities who have been scrutinized for a tweet or photo they posted years ago when they were a completely different person. Even though people change, what you post on the internet stays with you forever. Be sure you're not posting any prejudicial words online- even if you're joking. What you might clearly view as a joke or sarcasm can always be interpreted differently. Avoid the issue entirely by always reminding yourself to never post anything you wouldn't want your grandparent or boss to see.
Post Positive Photos
Social media allows you to post the best version of yourself for the world to see. This doesn't mean you have to pretend you're rich when you're not, but it does mean you can show off that volunteer trip you did last summer or the new job you just got. Using social media to your advantage can showcase the best parts of yourself- the parts that employers will want to see. Showing you're a well-rounded person with many passions in life is the best approach to using social media to create a positive perception of yourself.
If you don't have a LinkedIn account already, you need to stop what you're doing and create one right now! This may seem a bit extra, but it can really improve your chances at that next job you want. When you look up potential employers, the first place you'll find a majority of information on them is LinkedIn. The same goes for when potential employers try to look you up online- they'll check your LinkedIn page. Creating a page and connecting with highly respected people can greatly benefit your chances in the career search. Not only does it make you look professional and put together, but it also grants you the opportunity to find alumni from your college that are employed in a field you're interested in or find people in your community that can connect you with an organization you admire. Two big pieces of advice when it comes to LinkedIn: only connect with people you've met and send a message along with your connection request to 'higher up' individuals.
Follow Important Accounts
On every one of your social media platforms, follow news accounts and companies in the field you're interested in. For example, if you're interested in animal care, you'd likely follow the ASPCA or The Humane Society. Showing you have a passion for your field of work can be demonstrated by the type of accounts you follow online. Similarly, showing you're up-to-date in the news and informed about the world around you can be demonstrated by following multiple news channel accounts. Not only should you follow those types of accounts, but you should also like, retweet, and comment on their posts to show you're engaged and intrigued in the field of your choice.
As said before, you never know what type of posts or photos potential employers can find far back into your social media accounts. If you've had the same Facebook account since you were 12, odds are you could've said something back then that could be perceived as a negative characteristic of you now. Before you go applying to every open job in your ideal field, dedicate some time to deep clean all your social media accounts and rid of any posts that could be misconstrued. This could take hours or even days but spending a good amount of your time to look far back into your accounts and removing anything negative will ultimately save you in the long run.
The Same Profile Photo
When companies search for our social media accounts, they'll have an easier time finding all of them when we have the same photo posted across each one. Keep in mind, the profile photo for our accounts should be a close-up, headshot photo that doesn't include any other individuals in the photo. This way, companies won't become confused as to which individual in the photo is actually you. Using one photo throughout every account will simplify the search process for potential employers, as they won't waste any time digging through accounts that have similar names to yours.
Everyone knows what it's like to be young and have fun before the 'real world' sets in. While it's great to live in the moment and enjoy the years of our youth, it's important to remember that what we say or do now can impact us in the future. Be aware of what you post on social media because the negative aspects can truly follow you for years to come.
Stay smart and good luck!