Social Media can be an excellent way to keep up to date with your friends and meet new people, but don’t forget that many unexpected people could be searching your accounts to find out if you are their next great employee.
More and more companies, from HM Forces to small employers, are checking up on their prospective employee’s social media accounts. So in addition to updating your CV and Cover Letter and searching for current vacancies, make sure that you spend some time reviewing your social media accounts before you send out your applications.
Read more: 6 Things that jobseekers should Avoid
Where will employers look?
There are the obvious media accounts which you use all the time and employers are most likely to look at including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but don’t forget about old profiles that you may not have used for a long time. Did you sign up for a dating site or perhaps other family or friends have uploaded and named terrible images of you at a party sometime.
You don’t want to lose out on a job just because of some silly picture that you or someone posted on a site 10 years ago.
Get in there first:
You can bet that at least one of your potential employers is going to do a basic internet search, and possibly something more in-depth such as using a private investigating firm, depending on the nature of the company’s business.
Do an internet search against your name, any screen names and your email addresses to find out what comes up. If your name is attached to something inappropriate or a website that you have never heard of ask the webmaster to remove you from the site.
Think about what you’re putting online
Every time you upload a picture or information about yourself online you are telling the world about who you are. Whilst friends might find an image amusing or laugh at your embarrassing stories think about how you’d feel if your boss got hold of that picture or information?
Even if you have removed any incriminating photos, don’t forget that others may have saved that image that you posted several years ago and it could be in anyone’s hands! My advice would be to never post images where you are scantily clad, drinking alcohol or doing anything illegal because it may just be an email to a friend today, but it might be forwarded to thousands of people that you’ve never met – possibly your future boss!
Most social media sites allow you to choose who can see your profile, and what sections different people can see. If you do feel the need to share certain photos or keep up information which doesn’t show you in the best light, then make sure this is kept private between you and your trustworthy friends.
Facebook often amend their privacy settings on a regular basis. Next time you log on make sure that your profile is private and know who you are allowing to see it.
Be careful what you say
Most Twitter accounts include mostly text and fewer images so it is likely that the information that you share on your Twitter account will be more important than checking through the images. Don’t forget that if your Twitter account is set to ‘public’ anyone can see your tweets even if they don’t have an account.
There was a recently a case in the news where an 18 year old girl lost her new job with the police force because of some tweets which appeared racist and offensive that she had posted when she was 15. Even if you are posting what you think are reasonable opinions, don’t forget that other people could view your comments differently or take them out of context, considering them inappropriate, illegal, politically incorrect or racist.
Even if is something less dramatic such as cheating in a Maths exam or embellishing your CV to get a job, or venting your dissatisfaction with a previous employer this is not going to look good if a potential employer comes across it.
If your Twitter account is private, your employer may ask to follow you on Twitter or Facebook and they can then see what you have posted… and if you decline their request to follow you then they may be concerned about what you have to hide!
Avoid insulting previous employers
If you feel that you have been unfairly treated in a previous employment then your social media account is not the place to share your anger! It might feel better for a short time, but if your prospective employers see this they may be concerned that you are unprofessional and/or that you will also talk about their company in a negative light.
When applying for new jobs many sites will ask why you left your previous employment you should try to avoid sounding angry or bitter and remain calm and professional, even if you feel you were wronged. If you can’t think of any way to write why you left then just say something vague like, “The role was not right for my personality” or “There was no opportunity for promotion”.
If you must post negative images:
If you really can’t avoid posting those images or dissing your former employer then reduce the chances of a prospective employer finding them by keeping them anonymous. Use a separate email address or screen name that doesn’t relate to your name… but always keep in mind that large employers have a lot of resources and could find out more than you bargained for!