Social media is a great way to interact with friends and relieve memories from past activities. It's also a great way to completely derail your job search. In the modern world of business, many companies now look up potential employees to see not only what kind of personal life they live, but also if there are any undesirable elements to a person's personal life that might cause the company trouble later on down the line.
Make it Private (Unless You Want A Job To See It)
Chances are, you're not posting personal material and photographs on professional services like LinkedIn (if you are, now is the time to start removing that because LinkedIn is not a social media platform dedicated to personal showcasing like that).
On your other platforms though, like Twitter and Facebook, now is the time to start going through and looking at previous posts. Of course, if you've had Facebook for some time now that could mean thousands of posts, which would take you weeks to go through. It's easier to put your account on "Friends Only." This means only people who are friends of yours can see what you post. Now, should your company ever try to friend you, you'll need to approach this topic again, but at least you'll buy yourself some time.
The main problem with changing your profile over to "Friends Only" is how barren it looks. When a job looks at your profile, they might wonder why it's on lockdown. They might assume you have something to hide. You can tell them you're a private individual, and you want to keep it that way, but that may not work for all companies. That's why it's best to post some content for "Everyone" and leave the rest of your posts private.
If you wrote a professional blog, took part in a business seminar, or did anything that's clean and you wouldn't mind a business to know about, select these posts as "For Everyone." When a potential employer looks over your profile and sees dozens of these posts, they won't even question what you have locked away. It, at the very least, shows you know what to post and what to protect, which is important in the professional world of social media.
Clean It Up
After setting your accounts to private, you'll still want to clean it up. Putting up this protective barrier will protect you for a little while, but at ICS we know plenty of companies that require employees to follow their business profiles and, to allow the business to follow their profiles as well. Due to this, you need to clean up your social media profiles after you've put everything to private.
There are two areas of concern you need to focus on. The first is inappropriate pictures on profiles like Facebook and Instagram. The second is tweets you've sent out on Twitter. Twitter has led to a number of high-ranking professionals losing their jobs. Movie directors have even lost their jobs due to inappropriate jokes they posted years ago. Twitter is more of a challenge to clean as you may have published hundreds, if not tens of thousands of posts over the years. However, you need to go through and purge anything that might remotely be seen as offensive.
It doesn't matter if you posted the tweets or photographs before taking up a job when you were in college or at any other point in time. Inappropriate posts may reflect poorly on a job, which can cost the business money and future clients. So go back through your social accounts and remove everything you wouldn't want your employer to see or content that might be seen as offensive.
You've probably done it before, but when was the last time you Google searched yourself? At ICS we highly recommend doing this (first go into incognito mode as Google will alter search results based on who is performing the search).
You might find what is listed at the top of a Google search is not what you'd like to appear first. Sometimes you can change this by changing your Facebook profile to private and your LinkedIn account to open. You should also promote blog posts you've published to help drive up the blog rankings.
If there's something you don't like, you may be able to remove it. If the post is on a social media account or if it's on an old website you still run you can delete the content. If you don't have access to the posts, you can contact the admin of the website and request to have it taken down. If none of that works, just post new, fresh blog posts and content. This may be all you need to do to push down undesirable content.
Cut Down Politics and Personal Bias Posts
There's nothing more polarizing currently than politics. You may lean one way and a possible employer might lean the other way. Yes, if the person checking your profile agrees with you that might be beneficial, but there's a 50/50 chance it could instantly prevent you from landing a job. Instead, it's best to avoid politics and making personal bias quotes at all on your social media platforms. Unless you're applying for a politic specific brand in which this is required, you'll be much better off removing these posts and keeping it toned down in the future.
Slash What's Not Adding Value
You don't want to be seen as someone who's on social media all day every day. There are individuals who seemingly post every hour, and often times the content they post has no actual meaning behind it. A potential employer will see how frequently posts go up. If you have a current job and they see you're posting this frequently, it means you're posting during work hours, which is productivity you're focusing on social media posts and not your job.
Check Out Your Professional Headline
On LinkedIn you can share your current employment information. You can also post who you work for on Facebook and a handful of other social media platforms. However, even if you are in the midst of a job search you don't want to tell people you're openly looking for a job. Indicating you're out of work is not a good move as it doesn't look professional. It is one way your social media account might kill any potential interview. It's a little thing but it will go a long way in ensuring you still land an interview.
Direct Your Professional Brand
Some social media platforms are designed more like a friend to friend user experience. Services like Facebook and Instagram are designed for staying connected with friends and family. With professional services liked LinkedIn you need to alter what you post here.
On LinkedIn it is critical for you to focus your personal brand. Don't just have a smattering of content that's covering all kinds of topics. You want to target your personal brand. If you work in the IT field you may not want to include a blog post about the beer you drank in Germany or the food you sampled in Argentina. Yes, it is important to show off your writing skills for some jobs, but post blog material that is personal brand-centric.
Potential employers want to see a progression with your professional brand. This should be clearly defined with one post leading to the next. You can post about the beer and food you tried or where you camped on your social profiles or on a personal blog. Just don't have it cluttering up your professional profiles as it may dilute what a possible employer sees.
Don't Let Social Media Kill Your Interview
Social media is a great thing and an excellent way for you to stay connected with friends and family. It makes it easier to message people you don't have phone numbers for and keeps you up to date on what others are doing around you. It's also an excellent way to derail your job potential. That's what at ICS we want to help guide you through what to post on your social media profile and what you should either remove, or turn to private, in order to prevent hindering your job search. With other qualified applicants out there, you need to do whatever you can to prevent hindering your application process. In your job search, you'll also want to know your worth, so pre-order our 2019 salary guide today to get a look at what value is placed on your role.