Social media profiles have become an extension of ourselves. The words and photos we funnel into various social media outlets all stack up to create a picture of our character, whether we like it or not. And while you may think those countless selfies are only reaching your friends, the fact remains: they could be seen by your future boss.
"People often believe posting on social media is just harmless fun, but in reality, employers frequently look online to learn about prospective hires," said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. "Professionals should think beyond eliminating unflattering content from their digital accounts to how they can wow hiring managers by showcasing career accomplishments and industry involvement."
OfficeTeam asked 300 human resources (HR) managers what, in their opinion, were the most common social media mistakes professionals make that reduce their chances of being hired. Forty-five percent of HR managers cited writing negative or inappropriate comments. About one in three (35%) said posting or being tagged in questionable photos is the prevailing social media faux pas.
To help you put your best foot forward online, here is OfficeTeam's list of five social media blunders and how to avoid them:
- The Cranky Critic isn’t shy about sharing off-putting remarks with the world. No subject is off limits, including former colleagues and politics. Advice: Exercise discretion when posting on social networking sites, blogs, or online communities. You never know who might see your comments.
- The Superfluous Selfie Poster has no shortage of social media photos, but they're not exactly always office-appropriate, and there are enough of them to suggest an inflated ego. Advice: Remove or untag yourself from any images that may raise eyebrows. Use a polished profile photograph.
The TMI Transgressor posts every detail when attending a party, playing a game, or taking an online quiz, whether you care to know or not. Advice: Be aware that certain topics may make you appear unprofessional. Use your best judgment when sharing status updates and check your privacy settings to control who in your network has access to what information.
The Connection Counter invites just about anyone to join his or her network. When it comes to social media contacts, this person favors quantity over quality. Advice: Be selective about who you connect with and focus on fostering meaningful professional relationships. Having the right people in your network can help advance your career, and potential employers may also reach out to these individuals to learn more about you.
The Nonchalant Networker takes a lackadaisical approach to social media. This individual's online profiles are sparse, and updates are few and far between. Advice: Highlight your work history and accomplishments on sites like LinkedIn. Consider including key terms that describe your skills and experience to help employers more easily find you. Show an interest in your industry by participating in relevant Web groups and forums.