Expert Career Advice: Why Your Image On Social Media Matters

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Is there a photo of you in an eyebrow raising Halloween costume on Instagram? Have you written a rant about an ex as an update on Twitter? Or added a sarcastic comment on the link to a newspaper article about a former co-workers’ controversial views on Facebook?

If you think social media sites are appropriate places to post this type of content, it might be a good idea to reconsider. Randall Craig, the author of Social Media For Business, warns students and new graduates to use careful judgement when deciding what to post online.

Employers are searching for you

“Recruiters and employers look at social media, and while a site like LinkedIn might be used to qualify you, a site like Facebook might be used to disqualify you,” he said. “It’s important to be mindful of that, and ensure your privacy settings are adjusted so people aren’t given a wrong impression.”

Social media is no longer simply a tool to connect with your family, friends, and co-workers. It’s also a place to build an online reputation for better or worse, and connect with recruiters who could land you that dream job.

The place to really be aware of how you present yourself is LinkedIn,” said Craig. “Even the people you’re connected to reveal a lot about who you are. It’s best to keep connections to people you know. I recommend that people have a policy on who they connect with on LinkedIn. For instance, if I have had coffee with this person, I’ll add them. It helps with safety online as well.”

It maintains your reputation

When it comes to how you interact with people, Craig insists the online world isn’t disconnected from the in-person one. If inappropriate behaviours occur, eventually it’s likely they will be discovered.

“There are ways to report people online, and everything could be kept on an account,” he said. “The first thing to do if you encounter anything that makes you uncomfortable is to disconnect with the person, then take a second look at your privacy settings.”

The list of actions causing discomfort could range from a rude tweet to a date request on LinkedIn.

“Sometimes it helps to just reply to the person and say you’re not interested, or ask them to stop trying to connect with you,” said Craig. “Remember to conduct yourself the way you do when you’re face to face. It’s going to help you build and maintain a positive, professional image.”

So, before you start job searching, explore the impression you’ve left online. Google your name. See how your Facebook profile looks to the public. Then, send your resume.

What are your personal guidelines when deciding what’s appropriate to post online? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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