Social media—you can connect with long lost friends or family, post your most memorable moments and make connections… some you may not even be aware of.
Your internet footprint is the impression you make on social media. It’s the statuses and pictures you post, the pages you like and the values you appear to hold through all of these things. Unbeknownst to you, potential employers are more than likely searching your name on Facebook, Twitter or just Googling you to see what types of things pop up.
You may be asking yourself “what do my personal social media accounts have to do with my boss?” When you get a job, you are no longer only representing yourself, but also the company you work for. It is important to remember that companies have values to uphold in the public eye. They want to be sure the people they are considering for hire hold these values too, and that nothing these employees do on the Internet will compromise these values/beliefs.
Your Social Media Posts Will Follow You… Forever
It is exciting to gain a following on social media and have people retweeting or sharing your posts, but this attention comes with a price. Anyone with a smartphone is now able to screenshot your posts without your permission; meaning they now have the power to save the things you share on social media whether you like it or not.
You can try to delete these posts, but the Internet never forgets. It is a database that saves all information posted, wanted or not. If you don’t want your posts to be seen by literally everyone, take the time to make sure your privacy settings are set up properly, this way you can control who sees your posts to some extent.
Employers Are Becoming More Tech Savvy
A 2014 study from Career Builder shows that more and more employers are turning to social media to get the inside scoop on prospective employees. In fact, the survey showed that in 2014, 51 percent of employers searched for potential candidates through social media. To no surprise, there were several reasons why many potential candidates didn’t receive a call back; here are some of them:
- Candidates posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information—we know Facebook asks “What’s on your mind?” but you shouldn’t take that literally. Be conscious of the information you post about yourself on your profiles, not every one of your thoughts needs to be known by the public.
- Candidates posted information about drinking or using drugs—think of yourself as a spokesperson when you get hired at a company. You represent the brand you work for, and because they are in the public eye, your personal life is now public. Certain memories are better left offline.
- Potential candidates bad mouthed previous place of employment/fellow employee—everyone gets angry with their boss or coworkers for various reasons, but you should never let that be known to anyone online. Future employers take posts like this very seriously because if you did it to someone else, you can certainly do it to them. No employer wants to be connected to any reason why employees are dissatisfied with their work environment for the simple fact that consumers may see it and can possibly change their perception of said company.
It seems unfortunate that we have to censor ourselves online just to get or keep a job, but that’s the price you must pay to be part of the professional world. You must upkeep a certain appearance in order to stay aligned with your company’s values and beliefs. Your personal life is your own, but it is no longer personal when it’s posted on the web for everyone (including employers) to see. To get the callback or congratulations email you’re hoping for, keep in mind these simple internet etiquette rules:
- Your profile picture is ALWAYS public! If your profile picture is you holding up unsightly hand gestures, or surrounded by drinks at a club, just imagine the impression you’re leaving on an employer; they won’t think you’re professional or serious about your future at any company.
- Keep your privacy settings turned on. Aside from keeping a professional profile picture, protect your privacy by making all of your profiles private. You may not post inappropriate things, but you also may not want strangers lurking around your page looking for any reason to incriminate you.
- Be conscious of the things you post. It’s called a personal life for a reason, and once it’s online, it becomes everyone’s business. Be careful of the pictures, statuses and reposts you make because it all provides employers with a visual representation of what your values are. You don’t want your thoughts, opinions or anything of the sort to get you in trouble or passed up for a great job.
The rules of the internet change as we get older, be sure to keep up with them or risk losing out on once in a lifetime opportunities.