We use our own social media platform for a variety of purposes. Everything you upload, post, comment, and share paints a picture of you as a person. Your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram showcase your beliefs, your opinions, and your interests. It’s what makes engaging with those platforms so alluring. And while candidness and transparency online make the Internet an objectively more entertaining place, it can be hard to know who out there is really looking in on the things that you post on social media.
The reality is that your digital footprint can be one of the first things recruiters and managers look at when considering potential candidates for a job. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that of the 80% of employers who use social media as part of the recruitment process, 43% of them use social media to screen applicants, and 36% of them claim to have disqualified candidates after seeing a specific picture or post.
Let’s face it, we’re sharing and posting like never before, so it’s important to ensure that the image you’re projecting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, won’t get you in trouble. With that in mind, here are three tips that can help prevent that from happening:
Ditch the Profanity
Cursing or using words or phrases laden with profanity can quickly sour your chances with a prospective job opportunity. More than anything, it shows employers that perhaps you don’t have the best judgment, which has significant implications in a professional environment. It’s certainly tempting to spice up a caption or post or share a tweet in reaction to something online that made you upset or angry, but in both cases try and resist. You never know when something shared in the heat of the moment and quickly forgotten might surface and bite you in the future.
Cut Down on Complaints
Social media often functions as a sounding board for our opinions. But oversharing the negative ones is where it can become a problem. Having an overly negative persona online doesn’t bode well with higher-ups and recruiters, especially when those complaints are consistently about your current job. Persistent complaining leads many to assume that you’re more likely to repeat that behavior at a different job. Besides putting yourself at risk of not seeming like a team player can generate an unnecessary tension between you, your coworkers, and your managers.
Keep the Politics to a Minimum
Here, knowing your audience is key. Weighing in on every social and political issue that appears on Facebook and Twitter makes it relatively easy for potential employers to see how you conduct yourself online and where you stand on a variety of topics. While it’s important to represent causes you’re passionate about, just keep in mind that your posts live forever and are always liable to come back around when you least expect it.
In short, remember that the things you post and upload influences the way that you will be viewed by others. The next time you post, envision the way it might look in a vacuum, without context, and how it may be perceived by an employer, or, perhaps, a friend, or a family member. It doesn’t have to restrict you from being your honest self, but it never hurts to exercise a degree of self-restraint.