The online experience has changed dramatically in the last decade, and social media use has been adopted by members of every generation.
What once might have felt like a safe space to share personal information has blended into a gray area, where virtually anyone can catch a glimpse of your private life in just a few quick clicks.
You may not think twice about a few strangers seeing your social posts, relationship status, or vacation photos. But what if that person could make or break your chances of landing your dream job?
Joe Weinlick is senior vice president at Beyond, an online career network that connects job seekers and employers. His team works daily to help job seekers craft resumes, make connections and understand how to market themselves as viable job candidates.
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He has identified five common social media mistakes that can ruin your chances during the job hunt:
1. You didn’t act like someone was watching
Since job postings have transitioned to almost entirely online, it’s no surprise that companies are also doing their research on job candidates predominantly online as well.
No one could have predicted today’s impact of social media and the role it plays in presenting our public personas. A few years ago, you may not have realized that an angst-filled, politically incorrect rant from your personal college blog could reflect negatively on your future career, but it can.
2. You failed to self-audit
It’s important to spend an hour or more researching yourself before you apply for a job. We’ve all Googled our own names before. What search results are associated with you?
Put yourself in the shoes of a hiring manager and decide what bits of information help or harm you. Once you’ve identified any negative bits of information, see if it’s possible to log in to old social media accounts and remove the damning evidence
3. Your profile photo is a mismatch
Even online, visual first impressions will speak volumes to a potential employer. When a recruiter or hiring manager comes across a job applicant’s photo, they’ll naturally try to visualize whether or not there is a good match in regards to workplace culture.
This doesn’t mean you should change who you are or how you dress all the time, but it is important to choose where to project that image.
As a rule of thumb, consider Facebook and LinkedIn profile pictures to be an official statement of who you are. What you’re communicating through that photo should be professionally appropriate for your desired career. This can mean dressing up or dressing down depending on the sought after job.
4. Your online resume is ancient
Online career profiles such as LinkedIn and Beyond help showcase your resume. They also usually appear in top search results associated with your name, especially when searched with other key words such as your occupation or past work experience.
Make sure everything is current. Not only will this help highlight and evidence your professional skills, it’ll help bury any historical data that is old and out of date.
5. You didn’t set your profile to private
Most employers have a social media policy that recommends setting profiles to private. Sometimes comments can be taken out of context, or photos can tagged to include you without your knowledge.
To be safe, adding this extra layer of protection can help you separate what is personal and what is private.
Keep in mind that even things marked private can get out there! Facebook, for instance, has settings that enable you to control whether acquaintances (friends of friends) can see your photos and other content. To err on the side of caution, limit your Facebook settings so that only you and your friends can see your information.
In today’s social media age, recruiters have added an extra layer of screening to the hiring process, and those actively applying for jobs should be on their best behavior. Knowing that hiring managers are more than likely keeping tabs on applicants, be sure to maintain your online presence as you would your interview attire: clean and wrinkle-free.