Jobs are scarce and getting even more scarcer by the minute. If you want to compete against the hundreds of thousands of people who have your skill sets and experience, and want to make a great impression on a prospective employer, consider this. How often does it happen that someone will post questionable content on social media sites where the general public can access it? If you or someone you know have or are doing this, consider the reality of evolving HR policies of most reputable companies. The perils of social media missteps while in pursuit of job opportunities could jeopardize your ability to land the job you want.
Most people have heard the old adage, “you only get one chance to make a great first impression.” With social media now being a destination most companies use to promote their brand to the world, if you plan to apply to any good-paying company in corporate America, be ready to open up your Facebook account to a potential employer in an interview. It just might happen. Companies care about the reputation and character of their employees.
Being able to reinforce these positive attributes through your social media profile could mean the difference between landing the job you want or losing it to someone equally as qualified, but who has a polished personal brand established on their social media profiles. Such things are becoming more and more important in the interview process, and social media is where a growing number of employers are focusing their due diligence to determine if a job candidate has the character and lifestyle that they want to be associated with in their company.
While there are specific federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on race, gender, disabilities, or sexual orientation, there is no law that prohibits a company from doing ‘character research’ on a candidate. If you want the best shot at good employment opportunities, consider the powerful effect that your social media could play in your job search.
One of the greatest pieces of advice that I give to professionals is that when you are building your personal or professional brand, take time to consider the potential fallout that could come your way as a result of content you post to social media networks. If it is on the Internet, it is for the world to see. If you are looking for a good paying job, your blunders and stupidity is fair game for potential employers as a way to see into who and how you are in ‘real life’.
Here are some things you can do to begin cleaning up your act online and increasing your chances of landing the big fish when it comes to a great paying job or career advancement.
1) Don’t connect with someone on a social media network just because they request to be connected.
If you do not personally know them or you know they are not necessarily chaste or living a well-mannered life, take the time to visit their profile and learn about them. Look at their posts, their photos, their links, and comments. For instance, if you are applying for a position in a conservative organization where employee lifestyle is an important part of their public image, you don’t want to be interacting on social media with someone who hangs out in bars and shows no sign of moral conscience in their life.
I like what a pastor friend told me once about those who worked on staff at his church. It went something like, “Don’t do anything that I will have to make excuses for your conduct to someone who knows you are a part of our church staff.” My dad always used to tell me to choose my friends wisely. The Proverbs of Solomon are littered with notable wise counsel to the same affect.
2) Is what you have posted on your social media profile (whether it is private to only a few, only your friends, or to the general public) something that you would want your mother, father, children, rabbi or pastor reading or seeing?
If it is not something your parents or clergy would be comfortable with, I suggest that you not post it – EVEN IF you have your privacy settings so that only a chosen few can see it. While there is a great deal of controversy over the practice concerning ‘right to privacy’, until employers are told that they do not have any legal right to have access to your personal life through social media, they can ask you to login to your profile and ask you to allow them to peruse it during an interview.
3) Before you post anything, share anything from someone else’s social media profile, or link to a website from your profile, ask yourself if it meets the rule of excellence and praiseworthiness.
As a professing Christian, I try to filter anything that I post through the filter of wisdom. One of the ways that I do this is to ask myself is to review it against the benchmarks of prudence, i.e. is it true, is it noble, is it right, is it pure, is it lovely in nature, and is it admirable – see Philippians 4:8). This should be the baseline. I would also throw in “Is it modest.” If you are a woman and wanting to be seen as respectable, don’t be posting pictures of you in a string bikini on your Facebook profile. For that matter, don’t post pictures of you in a bathing suit at all. It sends the wrong message about you if you are trying to be seen as responsible and respectable.
4) If you are passionate about a particular subject related to your career, social media is a great place to post content on topics related to your profession.
Ideally, having your own website (personal domain name and website) is a great place to build your personal brand and show potential employers that you are in the 21st century and realize the importance of having a public presence on the Internet that is building and promoting your personal and/or professional brand. If you are looking for a great paying job, having your resume available on your personal website/blog is a GREAT way to get the word out about who and what you are and why employers should consider you over the other 100,000 candidates that are looking for the same kind of job you are.
In summary, the perils of social media missteps can shipwreck your best employment opportunities if you are not vigilant to protect your public reputation and what the world can see of your life. It’s best to err on the side of caution and prudence. In the 21st century where connectivity to networks of people is an essential part of personal and professional success, make certain you present the real you to the world. Take some time to review your Facebook and any other social media profiles you have to see if you have the kind of profile you would like a potential employee to see. Ask yourself, “If I were the employer screening for the right candidate for my company, would I hire myself?