Is social media harming your career?
By Gemma Raw
Since the explosion of social media over the past decade, it’s almost impossible to keep your private life private. With the anonymity afforded by the likes of Instagram and Twitter, have you ever considered what your digital footprint is saying about you?
If you’re serious about looking for a new job role, whether it’s within the probation sector, a youth offending team or as an offender healthcare nurse, then you may want to take some time to review your social media output. In today’s tech-savvy world, many hiring managers may head to Google to do some further background checks before offering you a job role. Within just a few clicks of a mouse, it can be easy to find out who you are, what you like, what you’re saying and what others are saying about you.
So, could this impact your career?
In most cases, your online presence is harmless. After all, no one is going to bat an eyelid if you’ve shared a few cat memes. But if your online profiles are showing support for controversial figures or you’re sharing potentially offensive content then an employer may think twice about hiring you. However, if it takes a potential employer just a few minutes to discover your digital footprint, then it should be easy to change a few settings to give yourself more privacy.
Have you Googled yourself?
The first thing you need to do is to Google yourself. It may seem like an ego-trip, but if you can look online to see what presence you have, you can decide if you need to act before you apply for your new role. More than likely you’ll find that most links do not refer to you (particularly if you have a common name) but it’s worth checking the news pages as well as Google Images for any incriminating photos. The last thing you want is for your potential new boss to see a picture of you with your friends on a night out – it may sound silly, but if you’ve been tagged into an image on an open social media site, it can easily be picked up by Google’s search algorithm.
You can use your Google search to your benefit. It will likely pick up your LinkedIn profile, so here’s your chance to double check that your profile is up to date. You may wish to take advantage of the ‘post an article’ function on LinkedIn. If you write articles showcasing your knowledge, then this will also be picked up within the Google search and could look favourably on you by hiring managers.
Check your privacy settings
It may seem obvious but it’s amazing how many people leave their social media profiles completely open for anyone to view. In most instances this may not cause any harm, but your Facebook profile should always be kept as private as possible. It’s not difficult to find out your date of birth, your hometown, and even your mother’s maiden name or your school within just a few clicks. In the wrong hands, this could easily lead to identity theft or even worse! What’s more, if your Facebook profile is open, a potential recruiter can easily look at your entire profile. They can see your likes and dislikes. Discover your political views and look at every photo you’ve ever uploaded. If that doesn’t sound fun to you, then it’s incredibly easy to adjust your privacy settings on Facebook. All you need to do is click settings > privacy. From here, we would advise that all your settings are set to “friends only”.
It’s also worthwhile keeping your Instagram private as well – to do this, click settings > privacy and security > account privacy and click to “private account”. You won’t lose followers, and people will still be able to follow you; you’ll just have to accept them first.
Are your profile photos appropriate?
The two things that will always remain public will be your profile photos and cover images, regardless of what social platform you are on. Always make sure that you choose an appropriate image. First impressions do count. If a potential hiring manager has seen a photo of you in a compromising position as a profile photo, you may have to work harder than another candidate to win them over. It may seem unfair, but you need to ensure that your public profile portrays the image that you want to project.
Remember that social media is a public forum
Social media can be a great way to create a good first impression and it certainly has its benefits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that whilst you may think that you’re anonymous, it’s incredibly easy to identify who you are. Social media is a public forum and should be treated as such – particularly if you wish to be taken seriously within your career.
The best advice we can give is to remember to never post anything that you wouldn’t mind your boss or grandparents seeing!