5 Ways to Avoid a Social Media Nightmare
If you don’t already have a worst-nightmare scenario when it comes to job hunting, allow me to propose the following… Imagine you’ve spent hours working on your cover letter and resume, and weeks looking to find the perfect job, when finally you find it! You apply, you ace the interview, and then in the final stages of the hiring process, your prospective employer does a background check by googling your name (they absolutely will do this)… only to find pictures of you with your friends that look like this:
Suddenly you’re out of the running for your dream job, because while your love of tequila shots and your affinity for outrageous outfits might have made you popular in college, it’s not going to make you popular with potential employers.
…I hope you’re reading this hypothetical situation with a smug sense of superiority because “that would never happen to you,” but if you’re even the slightest bit worried about your internet presence, take the time to read through the 5 tips below. After all, the time you’ve spent job hunting will be wasted if your online image makes you look like a protégé of Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen.
If you don’t already have one, stop reading this article right now, open a new tab, and create a LinkedIn page – if you’ve already worked long and hard on your resume, it won’t take more than 30 minutes to copy/paste over all the information, add a professional looking photo, and reach out to some connections. For more information about creating an outstanding LinkedIn page, check out one of our previous blog posts here.
I know how much drunk people love taking pictures, and I know how fun it is to post pictures of you and your drunk friends on Facebook so you can get so many ‘likes’ and comments about “THE BEST NIGHT EVER!” but those pictures don’t scream “hire me!” do they?
Go through and delete anything you’d be embarrassed for your grandmother to see, and crank up the privacy settings on your photo albums in general – you can learn about how to do that here. Deleting or deactivating your whole Facebook account while job hunting might be tempting, but some employers will want to see it show it up. Not having one at all may beg the question, “What is this candidate trying to hide?” It’s much better to show them something that looks clean and… sober.
While you’re on the internet hiding away past shame, it’s also a good idea to go on offense and put something out there you WANT employers to find; a landing page of sorts for your personal brand. You can do this by creating a mini-website on WordPress or About.me, and fill it with things you’re proud of. This is your chance to show off outside of your resume and present a portfolio of work – post a link to your best essays from college, share interesting graphics you designed from scratch, or post a video you filmed and edited. Imagine how thrilled an employer would be to google your name in search of dark secrets, and find this instead.
Speaking of putting stuff out on the internet you actually want employers to find, it’s a great idea to share something interesting you’ve written on Medium.com. Medium is an open platform for people to share stories, thoughts, and insights about almost anything, and it shows up high in the search results if you enter in a writer’s name. Write about what you find most interesting about interior design, or astronomy, or investment banking… no matter what kind of job you’re applying for, a strong ability to communicate in writing is desired by all, and it’s another chance to show people that you’re passionate about a given topic.
Though Twitter has a reputation for being an outlet where people vent about the boring minutiae of their everyday lives (see: “Locked my keys in my car this morning. #FML #LateForWork) it’s actually a powerful networking tool and a way to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.
Keep your personal account if you wish, but make it hard to find (use a nickname, etc.). Use your public facing account to follow industry leaders, companies, publications, and other news sources, and tweet about things you find interesting about your desired field (see: “Loved this great article about how one iPhone feature will impact the future of mobile advertising http://onforb.es/1evPNA1 #MobileAds”). You’ll learn new things, you’ll engage with others, and best of all, you’ll always have something interesting to talk about in an interview. #Winning
Written by Wes Janisen