Social Media: Friend or Foe?
According to Forbes, half of all job seekers use social networking sites daily. A study by CareerBuilder.com found that while 43% of organizations use such sites in their hiring process, 51% of employers have discovered content on social media sites that played a role in not hiring a candidate. If you’re not already aware that what you post on social media can affect your professional image and career opportunities, these stats should be a wake-up call!
All too often, people don’t realize that the things they share online can hinder their career advancement — and their livelihood. Be proactive about protecting your brand and reputation by carefully considering what you post. Don’t let your guard down and get careless, or you could undermine your image as well as your odds for future career opportunities.
Here’s how to make social media your friend, not your foe:
Build a professional profile. Whether you’re using Google, LinkedIn, or another social media site, make sure your professional profile provides all the basic information that other professionals (particularly potential employers) would want to know. After you’ve written your profile, read it again, making sure there are no typos or grammar errors that could indicate that you’re incompetent or careless. Make sure the picture you post casts you in a favorable light and is appropriate for every audience. Sure, you may look fabulous in that vacation photo, drinking a Mai Tai on the beach. But most potential employers want to see you present yourself as you would on the job, not when you’re chillin’ by the pool. They also appreciate seeing your smile! A photo of you with a sincere smile versus a serious, straight-lined expression gives a positive, more inviting appearance to your entire page.
Post only what’s appropriate. Whenever you write something or upload a picture, use sound judgment. Post only information that conveys professionalism and commitment to your career. If you are considering posting something you would not say at the office or to someone in a professional setting, don’t post it! That’s a sure sign you shouldn’t share such material online, particularly on a social media site for professionals. Here are other things to avoid:
- Inappropriate photos
- Inappropriate comments, including bad language
- Criticism of a previous employer
- Discriminatory statements
- False information on qualifications
- Confidential information
Participate in value-added activities. Part of the advantage of social media sites is the opportunity that comes with connecting and networking with others in your field. While connecting initiates a relationship, it’s the networking that transforms relationships into something meaningful. It enables you to participate more in the items that build value for your business or professional goals. Moreover, it doesn’t require a ton of time. Simply taking 10 minutes a day to contribute to a professional group, or post meaningfully in response to a connection’s comment, can elevate your professional credibility. That can give you an advantage among the masses of silent types sitting unengaged on the sidelines of the professional networking realm.
What’s been your greatest success with social media?