By now, we’ve all heard the horror stories about employees that have posted inappropriate things about their job or boss on Facebook or Twitter, and have wound up getting fired over it. Similarly, we’re all well aware of the ways in which social media can aid us in a job search, but one thing that most of us might not have considered, is how the way we use social media could actually hinder us when looking for employment.
I did a quick straw poll amongst my Twitter followers about what social media behaviour they thought might discourage someone from giving them a job, and the answers were mainly along the following lines:
Airing strong, controversial political views
Badmouthing current employers.
I’d agree with all of these points, and the thing is, most of us are getting savvier when it comes to protecting our privacy online, and we probably think we’re already steering clear from doing and posting any of the above. But it’s still easy to forget that a prospective employer might not find our witty rants about how much we hate our current boss quite as funny as we do.
A lot of behaviour you’re engaging in on social networks might be frowned upon by people who are hiring, without you even realising it. For example; look at your profile pictures on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. Hopefully the one you’re using for LinkedIn is suitable for a professional network, but on Twitter, Facebook, et al. it might not be something you’ve considered. Rude gestures to the camera, posing with alcohol, wearing revealing clothing… it might seem pretty tame to you, but to an employer, it could send off the wrong signals.
And it’s not just your profile picture, either. Log out of your accounts and then view them as an outsider would; what information – albums, “likes”, and so on – comes up to the general public? Could some of that be putting employers off getting in touch with you? Do your Tweets include bad language or provocative opinions? And is the content you’re reblogging on Tumblr creating a bad impression?
Another thing to consider is what you’re posting and when! For example, if your Twitter account is full of posts sent during office hours and detailing how bored you are and how hard you’re finding it to concentrate or detailing off-topic conversations you’ve been having with co-workers and friends, even if you don’t specifically mention your job, you’re sending the message that you’re not fully focused on work during office hours.
Take the time before sending off a CV or going to an interview to search for your name online – because these days, it’s one of the first things a prospective employer will do. Make a note of which of your social networks come up on the first one or two pages, and clean them up so you’re not incriminating yourself!
Liberty-Belle Howard is a blogger and freelance writer, currently working on behalf of Sentiment Metrics – who provide social media monitoring tools.