Employers, schools look at Facebook, Twitter profiles
It may seem fun to post pictures of your Saturday night antics on Facebook or send silly tweets to your friends, but unfortunately, doing so can affect your chances of getting a job or getting into school. Companies and schools are increasingly looking to social media to check up on candidates before making offers.
Miriam Salpeter, a job search and social media coach and author of “Social Networking for Career Success,” says people should “assume everything that is online (on social media) is public.”
Here are her tips for how to make sure your social media profile is up to snuff:
Start on LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a great go-to social network for people looking for jobs, as it enables people to network with current and former colleagues, classmates and friends, and is very job-focused. “It doesn’t offer up ways for you to put your foot in your mouth,” says Salpeter. She says even young career people can get on the site and start to network.
Use Twitter to showcase your expertise: Salpeter says she loves Twitter because you can present yourself as an expert in certain topics. This can be especially important if you are changing careers and need to demonstrate expertise without a job history. Twitter also allows you to follow influential people in the areas in which you might be job-hunting. With Twitter, anything you tweet is out there and indexed in Google, so you generally shouldn’t say anything that you wouldn’t want to represent you.
You can use Facebook for job opportunities: While Facebook is thought of as the most “personal” of the major social networking sites, there are ways to use it to your advantage. Look up potential employers’ Facebook pages and connect with them. Also, because Facebook has hundreds of millions of users, it’s often the first place an employer will look for information on you. Salpeter says to make certain areas “public” in your privacy settings, such as the “About Me” section, job and education history, and contact information. The rest you can keep private. But still assume everything can be viewed. That means don’t post unflattering pictures, and “un-tag” yourself on friends’ pictures if necessary. Don’t be excessively negative in status updates, and remove yourself from some of the trivial groups you might belong to.
Play to your strengths: If you’re excellent with video, create a YouTube channel. If you’re a good writer and expert in a certain topic, create your own blog. The idea is to be active on whatever social medium best showcases your talents.
What if the damage is already done? Create new content that can push the negative results lower in search results. Build your own website with links to the content you really want potential employers to see. Hopefully their curiosity will be piqued enough that they won’t search further.