/Social Media Matters

Social Media Matters

Be careful about the information you share online: experts

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Keeping up with friends, informing you of news and events, sharing your opinions and experiences, enlightening you with new ideas: social media was intended to do all these things and more.

But social media should not keep you from finding a job. Unfortunately, it can do just that if you post carelessly.

“Social media has killed more deals than you can imagine, based on what they’ve found on the internet,” said Carol R. Fletcher, principal at C.R. Fletcher Associates, Inc. in Syracuse.

She advises applicants to take care when getting social online.

“Do not put anything not professional on there,” she said. “People dig. Make sure everything on social media is positive and portrays the way you want to present yourself. If there’s anything at all bad, get it off.”

In addition to the information itself, the notion that the poster purposefully published the information speaks volumes. This could include memes, quotes, news, and videos and pictures of you engaging in reckless or questionable activity. If your grandmother would disapprove of it (unless your gram is very freewheeling), get it off your account. Of course, this cannot stop your friends from reposting their pictures of you.

“You have to be cautious when people take your picture and put it out there,” Fletcher said. “It’s a small world.”

References to drugs, tobacco use, alcohol, promiscuity, and partying are all on the taboo list. While it may seem humorous now, some of these types of references may be seen as derogatory by someone who does not know you well, like a hiring agent. This person must make a decision to move you along the hiring process or cull you based upon these snap judgments. Whether or not it’s fair does not matter.

It is the reality of the hiring process.

You should also be very careful about expressing any extreme views or opinions. If you can think of any possibility of people disagreeing with you, get that off your social media.

Killing your social media presence is not necessary and can backfire. Hiring agents may wonder what you are hiding and why you lack an online presence. Plus, you can use social media to promote yourself.

In addition to starting a professional page on LinkedIn (and, as applicable, other social media platforms), you should post only things that show you in a good light.

“Talk about activities, whether you hike, walk or golf,” Fletcher said as example. “Pick things that are positive about you. Any volunteer work is tremendous. It shows you’re well-rounded. You’re not just a recluse.”

Keep the mood of your posts light, upbeat and positive.

Perhaps a hiring agent will see something that resonates personally or that clicks with the company culture. If your posts are harmless but rub the recruiter the wrong way, do not think of it as a missed opportunity but more as sparing you from an uncomfortable employment experience: working for a company where you do not fit in.

If you want to keep what you have posted on your account, ramp up your privacy settings and begin a new, more positive account that is less private and that is intended to promote your job search.

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