Never forgotten on the internet – How to avoid social media hurting your career opportunities
Let’s stop and consider how many that is for a moment. Written as a number that is 2,000,000,000 people. The whole population of the world is roughly 7.5 billion, so it means more than 1 in 4 use Facebook worldwide. Just because you are probably curious now, the nearest competitor to that number is YouTube with 1.5 billion. Let’s remember that figure also includes huge numbers of people who don’t have access to the internet so in the UK, for example, the chances of being on Facebook are considerably higher. Other platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn also have staggering numbers.
If there are so many users of social media then clearly anything you put on there is likely to be picked up by a potential employer.
Social media policies
Most employment contracts now have a clause containing a social media policy when it comes to the reputation of the employer and employees who defame the company they work for on social media can find themselves in a disciplinary and sometimes even a dismissal situation. Employers know that their social media image and reputation really matter to their clients and their brand.
You need to treat your social media image the same way. The last thing a prospective employer wants to see when they find you online is that embarrassing hen do costume or your drunken 1 am post giving an opinion of your current employer.
Keep it clean
Here are a few tips to help you make sure you have a clean and acceptable social media presence that will help, not hurt your career:
- Do a security check. Make sure your settings are right in relation to who can see your posts. All the social media platforms allow you to filter your profile so that only friends can see your posts and that means you can keep the risky stuff out of the public domain a little better.
- Let safe social media be more public. The first tip is great if you want social privacy, but for many people, their work is part of their life, so it is a good idea to allow people to see your achievements and professionalism.
- Keep your LinkedIn profile professional, not personal. You probably are on LinkedIn and if you aren’t you probably should be. Remember LinkedIn is a professional platform and while it is okay to personalise your profile with some personal information about hobbies or achievements, stay out of anything controversial.
- Be active on LinkedIn groups. This is a good way to show your skill in your career area. Helping peers with problems and commenting on news helps you appear as a thought leader in your field.
- Clean up regularly. Take the time to go through your social media on a regular basis and clean up your friend list. Get rid of any that could damage your reputation or that don’t get the boundaries. If you still want to keep in touch with them, you could move them to a less public forum.
The best advice though is that despite what you may think, whether it is fair or not or even if it is right to do so, a prospective employer probably will find you. The best rule to follow is to treat what you post as permanent and if you are concerned about it being there in the future, don’t post it now.