By Joseph Cueto on August 8, 2015
Warning: Reading this post may lead to a review of your social media posts. Would you consider your general online activities as cringe-worthy or share-worthy?
“Character is what you are in the dark,” American evangelist and publisher Dwight Moody once said. Now, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, his insightful quote can also be rephrased to, "Character is also what you are online.”
Having said that, your online life brings with it great power and great responsibility. Your online life can be a big stepping stone or a debilitating roadblock in looking for employment. Give that some serious thought for a moment. Looking after your online presence should now be given as much care and attention as preparing for a job interview or making sure your resume stands out.
How? Why? Before you go into search-and-delete mode for those compromising bachelor party photos from a year ago or that tweet blasting your erstwhile boss from 2013, check out the reasons why your social media presence is very much a part of the equation when being considered for a job and how your online life can help you get a job. Then go into search-and-delete mode.
Employers screen applicants’ social media accounts
Be forewarned: Employers, even Filipino ones, delve into the practice of looking up the social media accounts of prospective employees. What an applicant feels may be alright to display on their Facebook or Twitter may not be the same for their future employer so be careful of the posts that may come out of your Facebook and Twitter. Posting not-so-appropriate content – whether that of the not safe for work variety, speaking ill of someone, or making inappropriate remarks – may make you kiss your job chances goodbye earlier than expected.
Through the lens of an applicant’s online presence, organizations always want to ensure they have the best information on hand to gauge whether a potential hire will fit the company culture. Employers, may be able to put together pieces of the puzzle to answer the question, “What is his/her personality type?” Some companies, according to reports, base their hiring decisions on what they uncover while sweeping social media accounts.
What are the type of posts to veer away from? The US site CareerBuilder.com gave a summary of reasons why companies in the US did not extend a job offer to a candidate due to these social media snafus. They are as follows:
- Provocative or inappropriate photos and information posted on his or her profile
- Evidence of drinking and/or drug use on his or her social profiles
- Poor communication skills
- Badmouthing previous employers
- Discriminatory comments related to race, gender, or religion
- Lying about qualifications
Comments you make on other people's profiles may be seen too so try to stay away from anything offensive, anything rude, anything your mom wouldn't want to hear you saying.
Stay away from trouble by following a simple rule: If it is something you feel a future boss or company wouldn't want to see, do not post.
Making good use of your online presence leads to good results
How you choose to utilize your online life will come back to you. Good news: It can be used to help your career dreams and aspirations. Your social media accounts can be used to get in touch with companies you are interested in applying for. Like or follow their pages and spend some time getting acquainted about their services and activities. Strike up a friendly chat in the page with an inquisitive comment or two. You can expand your network too by reaching out to other professionals from different industries or your dream company. Who says social media use need to be controversial or eyebrow-raising?
Use your online life to highlight the best version of yourself to would-be employers. It can be as simple as stating on your profile your deep interest in human resources, architecture, or any field you plan to set your stake on. Another way is to give emphasis on your skillset. Sharing information or weighing in on industry developments on a field you are interested in may help catch employers’ eyes. Instead of reading the latest gossip and scrolling for memes, try signing up in online forums or communities. These can help enhance your chances of landing that coveted job or add to your knowledge base in your chosen field or course.
Invest time in sites that could help you showcase your skills. It may be high time to boost that LinkedIn profile of yours, for example. Or go on sites like Pinterest or Tumblr to show your portfolio and design sense. Create video blogs on YouTube breaking your work down and showing how well you understand it. Maybe use your Twitter to share meaningful, relevant articles to your field. So on and so forth.
Coming up with a personal website or blog can be another selling point. It can be a venue that features a lot more leeway in sharing to others your achievements, activities, and special skills.
Substance and prudence matters
Exuding balance, depth, and substance in your online life bodes well for your employment prospects. Employers not only take a peek at the type of content (i.e. professional- or personal-related) one posts but the total of non-work-related postings that may show up. Remember, whatever the venue may be, it is ideal to be seen as someone who is a viable candidate that can give value to a company.
At the end of the day, being more than aware that your online life can be a boon or a bane in getting a job is the right attitude to adopt. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make it count. Having a positive online life can propel you to your next level in your work career. Make sure your online self shows an appropriate and true image of the real you.