Most everyone uses at least one social network these days and the social networks used will continue to change over time. I still remember when MySpace was popular…maybe it still is, but I don’t hear about it anymore. There’s new one’s popping up all over the place and some stick around for longer than others. No matter whether you use FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, or another social network, here are a few things to think about before posting that drunken party video all over the web:
1. Companies Are There, Too
No matter what social networking site you use, companies are on these sites posting, reviewing, researching, and marketing as well. Many companies have one or more individuals who are responsible for updating their profiles and posting content. You can bet that these people know their way around the site and know how to find you if you’re on there.
2. Companies Are Looking Up Applicants
More companies are researching applicants on social network sites more than on job boards these days. Primarily because they can get a lot more information from a social network site than they can from a resume or job board. It may not be your professional and educational information, but it’s information they will use to determine if they want to hire you or not.
3. Watch What You Post
Since these companies are on these sites as well, they’re going to see your embarrassing and inappropriate pictures, posts, and responses to other people. If you don’t want your employer, or potential employer, to view a picture of you racing the guys to see who can down the most beers in one minute, don’t post it. You don’t have to be strictly professional on your personal social sites, but keeping it clean and mature can go a long way when an employer looks you up.
Your posts and the language you use on these sites shows a potential employer your personality and how you spend your free time, and is a big determining factor they look at when deciding whether or not you might be a good fit for the company or if you would fit in with the company’s culture.
4. Be Searchable
(Once you’ve cleaned up your social networks) Ensure you are searchable by everyone, unless you’re under 18 years old. If you are ‘of age’ make sure you haven’t hidden or blocked your social profiles from being searched by potential employers. I actually had an employer tell me that ‘if you’re not on a social network, then you don’t exist.’ While this obviously is not true, many employers think this way. They want to know who they are hiring before hiring you, and sometime even before they interview you.
5. If You Must…
If you absolutely must post those really bad, embarrassing pictures and posts, I recommend having two separate profiles. One would be employer-facing where you have modest and mature posts and pictures, where you use appropriate language, and where you interact with others on a friendly level. The second one could be your ‘bad’ profile where you post those obviously-not-corporate-approved pictures and posts. This second profile should not include your real name or be linked to any of your ‘good’ social sites.
6. DO Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the premier professional social networking site in the US. I highly recommend using this site, filling out your profile fully, and including all professional and educational experiences on here. This is one of the first sites an employer will look, so ensure they get a good idea of who you are professionally from this site.
There are so many sites out there that a person can use. My advice is to just be careful how you portray yourself on any site you use to ensure you look professional and well-rounded in your life.