Oct 31, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Do you use social media? If so, great -- but be careful. What we post online may have consequences in the real world, especially when it comes to finding a job. Let's take a closer look at six ways social media can influence your job search. 

What kinds of consequences? Well, both kinds: good ones and bad ones. Employers look at your social media accounts. Make sure yours are ship-shape. Join us as we take a look at the good and bad of social media and offer some tips on how to amplify the good and mitigate any damage.

Negative Impact: Do do these things

1. Using texting language instead of professional language

'LOL'. 'IMHO'. '<3'. Look familiar? It should because texting language is everywhere.

While it may not seem like a big deal to use texting language on social media, it is. You are always better off spelling things out. That's right: put a little more time into those tweets and be careful what you say.

Why? Employers judge you for everything you say and write on social media. Don't lose a job or an opportunity over textspeak.

2. Think about how you will appear to employers 

While posting the occasional picture of alcohol on social media is no longer generally seen as a no-no in terms of one's career, do consider how you will appear if you are always posting about partying. Also, anything you post related to drugs, or any other questionable substances, can limit your chances on the job, especially if you work in a service field, such as education.

The bottom line is anything that you wouldn't want your boss to see or hear about shouldn't go on social media.

3. Complaining about work online

We all bellyache and complain about work. It's normal and natural. Just be careful where you do it. 

Complaining about work in an email or on social media will have consequences -- almost certainly negative ones.

Don't announce a job offer on Facebook or anywhere else until the whole arrangement is settled -- papers signed, exit strategy solved. If you do post about it, think about your privacy settings and who can see the post.

You may also want to consider sharing job news -- good or not-so-good -- only in person. If it's online, it could be out there for all to see!

Positive Impact: Do these things instead

1. Develop your personal brand

What is a personal brand, exactly? Think about the big brands you know: Coke, or Apple, for example. You know in less than a second what they are about just by hearing the name or seeing a logo. Your personal brand is similar, but it's just for you, as a person. 

Think about what it is you want to be recognized for and how you want wider audiences to perceive you.

Social media has made it easy for recruiters to find you. Make sure to keep your social media sites active so recruiters - and potential recruiters -- know who you are, what you're about, and the things you care about. 

2. Differentiate from other candidates

How do you differentiate yourself? Show you are active in your field, start a blog, and let loose a bit!

Keep in mind who can see what you post. If it's not appropriate for a recruiter or boss to see, then it's probably not appropriate for a blog. 

Bottom line: personal and professional is good. Too personal and catty isn't. 

3. Post positive work-related things

In short, keep everything G-rated and kind. Yes, you can have an opinion, but if it reflects poorly on you or your place of employment, keep it off social media. 

If you attend training, finish a big project, or participate in a work-sponsored event, post about it! Just be purposeful and aware of what you share online.

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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