That unfortunate picture of you in Las Vegas.
The embarrassing status you posted about your ex.
A username ending in, “XOXO”.
If you’ve spent any time on social media, odds are that you’ve shared something a bit silly on your profiles at one time or another. While humiliation at the hands of your family and friends is bad enough (never read the comments section!), imagine a potential employer coming across your exploits while reviewing your job application.
Take control of your personal brand and clean up your social profiles today! Here are our tips for getting your social media profiles ready for the job search:
- Google Yourself: If you haven’t searched your own name lately, you clearly haven’t been bored enough! While digging through your results might be a fun way to pass the time, search engines also represent many employers first window into your world. Make sure the results they are seeing reflect the professional you strive to be.
- When in Doubt, Delete: There are the basic red flags any seasoned social media user should know to remove by now; photos of excessive alcohol consumption, videos of that night out you can’t quite remember and any status updates that use offensive language should be first on the chopping block.
However, there are some other elements to consider scrubbing from your profiles that might not seem so obvious. Negative statements about past employers, politically charged messaging and anything overly mean or cynical can also send the wrong message. With any content that is of concern, you can delete the content entirely or, alternatively, you can choose to change the privacy for certain posts depending on the social platform being used.
- Privacy Settings Send a Message: While most social media sites do allow you to toggle custom privacy settings for each post in order to control who sees what, be aware that your choice of privacy settings can also send a message to potential employers. If a profile is completely locked down and private, a person not connected to the profile will only see bare bones information, such as a profile picture, name and basic contact details. From the outside looking in, a barren profile might project the idea that there is something to hide. Get strategic about which content to keep public and which posts you would rather keep private – it’s all about balance.
Pro tip – Remember to view all of your profiles in public mode to ensure you’re seeing it exactly the way an employer would.
- Get Situational: Each social media platform has its own personality. Start matching the type of content you share to the appropriate platform. For example, LinkedIn should be your go-to source for sharing and consuming business-related information. On the other hand, Facebook is more tailored to personal connections and photo albums of family and friends. Always keep in mind where you are posting and take a second to consider if it’s the right platform for the current message.
- Get Selective about Posting: We’ve all been there – something gets you fired up and you take to social media to post a blistering status update in the heat of the moment. This might be cathartic at the time, but these snap-decision posts rarely age. Instead, start getting selective about the things you post and consider planning ahead. Review any status updates before posting, and make sure content that you reshare reflects positively on you and your goals.
- It’s Time for Some Breakups..: You turn around one day and, suddenly, you have 8,000 followers. Flattered at first, it’s only natural to bask in your internet popularity. Unfortunately, when digging into each friend or follower on social media, it quickly becomes clear that a lot of the profiles we connect with either do not reflect firm relationships or, worse yet, are actually spam generating bots. Do yourself a favor a shed some of those fake friends. Employers might make judgements based on the accounts you follow and those who follow you, so it pays to trim down to your most meaningful circles.
- …and New Connections: To keep it simple, follow smart people. Subject matter experts, industry insiders and thought leaders that speak to your career path can be invaluable resources. Once you get rid of those accounts cluttering up your social media feed, tap into new connections that reflect your personal and professional goals.
- Your Name, Your Brand: If you haven’t yet, secure a username and unique URL (if offered by the social platform) that’s as close to your name as possible. While a moniker like “CoolGuy87” is a neat name, it might not project the professionalism your next employer is looking for. Make your profiles easy to find and more professional by simply matching your username to your real name!