If you use the word “consistent” as one of your strengths on a resume, could the potential employer of your dream job pull up your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and view the same “brand” across all social platforms?
Yes? No? Maybe? If that question took you more than three seconds to answer then it is likely that you have some serious work to do.
The day you create an account on social media is the first step in defining your digital footprint. Whether you realize it or not, you are walking, talking, tweeting, posting, brand – just like Nike, Campbell’s, McDonald’s, or Wal-Mart. Although you may not be a well-sought household name, you have the responsibility of protecting your reputation and projecting a positive image that shows your personality, wisdom, and strengths.
If you were an early adopter of social media, chances are, social media etiquette was the last thing on your mind. Once upon the time Facebook was a safe utopia to express yourself without your parents having the slightest clue about the silly pictures you posted or the inappropriate school-aged jokes you shared among your immediate circle of Facebook junkies. At one period of time, a hashtag was merely a symbol on phone and not a crafty way to track a trending conversation.
Fortunately for us, the popularity and accessibility of social media has tremendously increased with our age. No longer are we the teens with no worries about what we post; we are young adults who realize that our actions on social media could cost us an opportunity to advance in our professional careers.
Don’t panic if you haven’t come to this revelation or experienced social media related problems first hand – all is definitely not lost. Find out what you can do to protect your reputation online and remain a candidate for your dream job.
1. Google Me Baby
Google was your best friend in college and will be your best friend when it comes to your personal brand. Use Google and other search engines such as Yahoo or Bing to see what information is available about you. Most employers often start with a quick Google search, so before you apply to your dream job check out what others can find out about you first.
2. Know Your Rights: Explore Privacy Settings
If you are someone who does not keep up with the constantly changing privacy settings on social networks, then you may be victim of a potential employer seeing a picture of you lining up twelve shots of patron and taking them to the head last weekend. Then again, if you are a closed book with little or limited information available, an employer may think that you have something to hide. An open or closed profile may appear hopeless in a job search; however it is up to you to determine the type of information that you want to be available to the public. Become familiar with your privacy options and use them to your advantage.
3. Separate Profiles, Separate E-mails
No one should limit themselves to one e-mail, especially for the purpose of social media. If you decide to create separate profiles for your personal and professional image, make sure that you have e-mails for both purposes. E-mail searches are often used to screen potential job candidates, so make sure that a social media account that you don’t want an employer to view is not associated with your professional e-mail.
4. Give Your Social Media Profile a Make-Over
If you cannot fathom the idea of deleting your profile and starting over or creating a separate profile for business, it’s time to give your profile a make-over. If you have a public profile, be sure to make it private during this transition. Delete any posts or pictures that can be potentially damaging to your brand. Untag yourself from posts or pictures from friends who may not understand that pictures from the club or Spring Break are no longer memories you want to share with the world. Explore your privacy settings to determine which options make you comfortable. Anything that you want to keep (i.e. pictures) should be moved onto a USB.
5. Contact Your Friends and Family
Be sure to contact your friends and family to let them know that you are currently strengthening your personal brand and would appreciate communication before anything that could be potentially damaging is posted. Although you can control tag settings, you cannot control if someone wants to post something or not. It is likely that they will be understanding and respect your wishes. If not, reporting bad content or deleting someone from your account may be actions that you may not necessarily want to do but something that you may be thankful for in the long run.
Social media is an evolving “thing” that the world (and employers) has embraced. It is your responsibility to keep up with the evolution and understand where your social brand lands in the scheme of things.
After all, you don’t want to be viewed as a consistent liar if you’re an accomplished, community-driven saint on LinkedIn and a bar-hopping, explicit individual with no regard to life on Facebook.
Have you given your social media profiles a make-over? Do you know someone that needs to take this advice? Share below!
Whitney L. White is a recent college graduate from Wilberforce University with a passion for social media and personal branding. By day, she is a Job Search Assistant to Job Seekers in Cincinnati and by night she is glued to her phone following the latest trends in social media. She strives to shake all stigmas of Millennials and uplift her fellow Gen Yers on the way. Follow her on Twitter @i_HEARTNews. WARNING: Her profile is pretty darn clean.