When I work with people on job hunting they’re keen for me to help with their CV, but I often find that the thing they rarely look at is their overall online profile. With more and more recruiters ‘checking you out’ online it is even more important to take control of your online profile, make it work for you and more importantly avoid negative profile press such as that exhibited by young Gemma Worrall on Twitter of late.
Gemma shared a woeful lack of political, geographic and spelling knowledge by misspelling Barack Obama’s name as ‘barraco barner’ and mistakenly thinking he’s was the British president (let’s not even go there) in reference to him getting involved in the Russia/Ukraine affair.
Though Gemma’s story is extreme it does highlight how people don’t realise the potential size and breadth of their audience, the effect of their words and the potential fall out on themselves should the reception be negative. I feel for poor Gemma and her comments about some of the responses she has received as a result are a sad testament of our times.
Tips for Maintaing a Healthy Social Media Profile
Here’s a few things to keep in mind before you commit your thoughts to your favourite social media.
- Remember, social media is not the same as having a chat with a friend in the pub, round the dinner table or over a cuppa of your favourite beverage.
- By putting something in writing you are creating a record that can be referred to and shared and re-shared beyond your scope of control and influence, rather than a throw away comment to a limited audience that may be forgiven and forgotten.
- If your writing is public, such as tweets on Twitter, your blog/website entries and public posts of Facebook/Google+ then it is published in a legal sense. This means you are then opening yourself to defamation and libel laws should your words be construed as unlawful.
- Remember that when you write something people can’t perceive your facial expressions and body language, they have no cues from your tone of voice, so it is that much easier to misconstrue the meaning of your words.
- Make sure you read over your words before you click send/publish, think about the way people will potentially take it. Replace any ambiguity with clear meaning where possible.
- If you think what you are intending to write is controversial then weigh up whether your desire to express your opinion outweighs your ability to deal with any fall out. If not then don’t write it, save it for a private chat with a trusted individual/group.
- We all have bad days at work and we’ve probably all had a bad boss, work situation that we need to vent about, but there’s a time and a place for it and putting it in writing is rarely the answer. Never write anything openly hostile or negative about your employer or a company you wish to work for in the future on social media. Chances are if it’s a public post there are people employed to monitor all comments about the company and it could get back to your boss/recruiter. If it’s private, well exactly who is on your friend list, in your circles, perhaps you have a work colleague there that you didn’t remember or perhaps you added your boss?
- Be honest about yourself – if you have conflicting messaging, views, opinions and data about yourself on different social media (e.g. between LinkedIn and Facebook) chances are that recruiters and employers may pick up on it and start to question your honesty and integrity.
- You are entitled to a private life, but online you have to take steps to ensure that you manage and protect it. Social media like Facebook and Google+ will automatically default you to the most public and open settings and each time they bring in new tools and features you’ll automatically be opted in. If you want to keep a private side to your online life then make sure you regularly check your privacy settings and use tools such as the ‘view as feature’ in Facebook to see how different types of people view your profile.
- Having no public Facebook presence can raise concerns with recruiters. It shouldn’t have an effect, but it sometimes does. In some places (notably the US) recruiters are illegally asking candidates for employment to give over their personal Facebook information for recruiters to ‘peek’ at your world. My advice is to never give this kind of access and be sure to state that what they are requesting is against the law. However, it is possible to avoid getting into this situation in the first place by putting the occasional public post up that is non-confrontational and says something about what you’re interested in and do with your time. You can see my public Facebook profile as an example of this.
- Regularly google yourself and any aliases you use. You’d be surprised by how much information can come up and how a post you might have put on the internet back when it wasn’t all that popular (if you’re as old and geeky as me) can come back to bite you in the bottom! I make a point of googling myself about once every other month and always google myself before I start looking for work.
- When you’re looking for work it’s a good idea to become a bit more publicly active on your social networks, most notably LinkedIn to increase your chances of getting noticed by recruiters in your field of expertise. I find writing about my expertise and field of work helps enormously. I contribute to groups and try to blog on my website more often.
- Don’t be afraid to sell yourself, but not too much – when I’m looking for a new contract I update all my social networks to show that I’m looking for work. However, be mindful that on your more ‘social’ social networks like Facebook your friends might not want you to keep going on about needing a job. With LinkedIn, it’s the opposite, take time to refresh your status and profile, post frequently – but only on relevant topics, be active in groups and state that you’re job seeking where appropriate. Take the time to recommend colleagues on LinkedIn that you would like a recommendation from and then request a recommendation in return. It’s a lot harder to turn down someone’s request when they’ve already done something for you.
So, in conclusion use your social media to raise your public profile in a positive way that helps attract recruiters. When using social media for personal use take a moment to think before you publish your undiluted thoughts and feelings in a public forum. Most people don’t say everything they think and feel in crowded public places, perhaps it’s time to adopt this thinking for online as well as offline interactions?