It should come as no surprise to you, but social media is not going away. It’s here to stay, and it affects every area of our lives—including our work life.
You might not be a banker or a lawyer, so you may be tempted to think that social media doesn’t matter that much to your career. But that would be a mistaken assumption. Social media plays a central role in your work life, no matter if you’re actively looking for a new job or not.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s say that you are looking. Or at the very least, you’d be open to the possibility of seeking out a new opportunity, regardless of whether it’s a direct or contract position.
Taking a page from the medical field, the first rule when it comes to social media in regards to your job and your career is “Do no harm.” There are two sides to that reference:
- “Do no harm” at your current employer with the job that you have right now.
- “Do no harm” in terms of damaging you chances of landing a new job with another employer
There are two sides because social media has the power to influence your career both in terms of your current job and any future opportunities. That reality underscores the importance of taking social media seriously and recognizing that social media is not just “social.”
Social media is also “professional.” Whether you like it or not.
That’s because a potential employer can search for you on the various social media platforms. And before you ask the question, it doesn’t matter if you’re connected with them, are “friends” with them, or you follow them or they follow you. They can still, to a large extent, see the type of information that you post.
AND they can use that information to make an informed decision about whether or not you would be a good employee for their organization. That’s why it’s in your best interests to ensure that what they see leaves them with a positive impression. (Or at the very least, not a negative one.)
With all of that mind, below are four simple steps for making sure that your social media accounts don’t cost you a job:
#1—Use an appropriate profile photo.
This is perhaps the easiest step. Common sense should tell you what is appropriate and what is not. You certainly do not need a professional head shot, but one from your buddy’s bachelor party is a no-go.
#2—Be sensible about your profile information.
Take the same approach as you do with your photo. It doesn’t have to be uber-professional, especially for sites like Facebook and Instagram. However, you should strive to achieve some balance. Words of wisdom: err on the side of caution.
#3—Be careful of what you post.
Yes, it’s easy to get carried away on social media, especially during an election year or if you like to discuss politics. You should also resist the urge to post anything that might be in overall poor taste. Funny is funny, but funny won’t get you hired.
#4—Be careful of how you comment/respond.
The same rules apply here. Comment in a respectful fashion, even if you disagree with the person. This is the Internet. A tirade of profanities can and will damage your personal brand . . . which in turn can damage your professional brand.