We’ve all been witness to how quickly social media can bolster and subsequently destroy someone’s career. Justin Bieber was discovered on MySpace, while Twitter has forever blemished Anthony Weiner’s political career. Every day people are also impacted by their online media presence, but usually in less viral ways. If your primary focus is protecting yourself from a social media gaffe, you’re on the right track but you’re missing some integral ways social media can help you as well.
Many people feel that because Facebook is a personal platform, its accoutrements shouldn’t impact the professional realm. I remember the good ol’ days when you needed a college email account to join Facebook and my mom didn’t “Like” every photo I posted. Unfortunately, we now live in a different reality and you have to adapt. Most recruiters and hiring managers will check Facebook. A few strategies to avoid any mishaps include strengthening your privacy settings and censoring your posts. Much to the chagrin of many, this means removing any revealing selfies, blatant “party pics” and statuses that are polarizing or offensive. If you’re in the heat of a job search, you can even disable it until you’ve secured a position.
Can Facebook help me? You bet. Facebook is filled with people who support you. Don’t hesitate to share accomplishments, projects and goals. Additionally, it’s a great relief to me as a recruiter when someone’s Facebook I’m following up on isn’t littered with obscenities.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn, you’re missing a huge opportunity to promote your services, meet like-minded professionals and learn about career opportunities. More than just a virtual resume, LinkedIn is a great place to share articles that are relevant to your industry and post some blogs yourself without the hassle of a separate account or website. It’s supposed to be interactive, so use it for more than just the profile!
Can LinkedIn hurt me? In short, yes. Make sure that the dates on your LinkedIn profile and the dates on your resume match up. Use a headshot that is professional and flattering. And for goodness sakes, check the spelling on your profile backwards and forwards.
Thanks to the advent of screen shots, an ill-thought-out tweet lives on forever. You should review your privacy settings and stay vigilant about the information you disperse on Twitter. I recommend going back over the history of all your tweets and removing any that are off-color. Are they funny in the right context? Maybe. But consider whether or not your quick-wit is worth losing your job.
Can Twitter help me? Of course! Use this platform to share valuable information about meetings, events, and news. You can also advertise your skills and follow/interact with others in your industry.
Many of us have been burned by that friend who took a screenshot of the ironic and contorted face you sent in jest and then immediately shared it with the group chat (haven’t we?). Spoiler alert: that will always happen. Be judicious in the illustrations and photos you send through this platform.
Can Snapchat help me? Actually, yes. Many professionals share trade secrets and information about their businesses via the “My Story” feature. Send people to your website. Share a beauty tip. Promote your brand.
I appreciate the privacy features on Instagram and find that typically people are more circumspect about what they post here. However, be wary of posting too many selfies as it can imply narcissism.
Can Instagram help me? Well, where would the Kardashians be without Instagram?
In summary, you have a virtual reputation that is very difficult to mend once tarnished. In addition to protecting it, spend some time strengthening it as well.