Finding it hard to get job offers? Are you getting through the application forms, testing and interviews, making it into the final few to be considered for a position, but never getting the offer? Have you checked your Facebook or Twitter profile lately? Even if you have figured out the best way to represent yourself on paper and sell yourself in an interview, if your online profile doesn’t match the professional image you are putting forward to prospective employers, this could likely be a reason you are unsuccessful in landing a job. A large majority of jobs are advertised online and have online application processes, so it is no surprise that employers also use the internet to do a little personal research. It is an increasing trend that employers look to social media for an insight into the true character of applicants; your social media profile has become the modern reference, a building block in your reputation.
There are things you can do to present an online image that you are proud of; starting with cleaning up your profile, removing as best you can the things that are a source of embarrassment to you. Be careful and weary of what you post online. Once it is out there, it stays there. This goes for comments as much as photographs. Occasionally, Facebook will post to you ‘your status on this day last year’ which is very interesting and sometimes fun, to see what state of mind or circumstances you were in then, in comparison to today. However, it is a rather scary reminder that all those thoughts and feelings are forever saved online. There are more and more reports of people losing their jobs as a result of social media scandals; from flight attendants mocking passengers and complaining about the cleanliness of air crafts, to politicians slating their peers and ridiculing their constituents. Remember that when you sign a contract with a company or institution, you are agreeing to represent them; this means that your image becomes theirs. Social media is important in this day and age to any industry tech related. That is why there are scholarships by foundation founders that help students in the social media and internet careers.
In order to stay social media spotless, keep the following rules in mind.
- Do not update your personal profiles during work hours – not all companies ban or block social media sites from the office computers, many utilize them for their own promotion; if this is the case in your office, do not see this as an opportunity to access your own profile. Work hours are for work, not for keeping up to date with what your friends did over the weekend, or for updating your own status. If you are caught doing so, you could find yourself under disciplinary action.
- Do not allow everyone and anyone to become your ‘friend’ or ‘follower’ – remember who is on your list. Many people are fortunate enough to work in relaxed environments, with colleagues and superiors that they consider as friends and they extend this friendship to the social media sphere. However, this is often forgotten when someone is having a bad day or had perhaps a little too much fun over the weekend, and decide to broadcast their feelings on their profile. Don’t forget who is on your friend list and following your updates, consider how the things you reveal may influence the opinion a colleague or superior has of you.
- Do not moan or rant about your job/boss/colleagues online – All too often people post comments about being hung over or bored at work, even complaining about how they dislike their position, boss or colleagues, and on how little effort they put into their day. You may think you are safe, as long as you are not ‘friends’ with these people, but companies can find their way in; you wouldn’t be the first person to be dismissed for not being ‘fully committed’ to their position/company.
- Do not post embarrassing photographs – images of you in inappropriate fancy dress will be held against your sense of judgement and as reflecting badly on the company image. Equally, any photographs of you in a state of drunkenness will be held up against your character and as a reflection of irresponsibility.
- Do not broadcast if you have faked a sick day – smart phones allow people to access their social media profiles whenever they like and wherever they are; as a result, a trend has arisen that involves people constantly updating their status to broadcast their every movement. If you have taken a sick day, but your profile says you have checked in at a concert or bar the night before, or that you are spending the day out with friends visiting an attraction or having lunch at a particular restaurant; you have let your company know that you faked a sick day.
It might be that you really are sick at home, but if in your boredom you decide to update your status to say how much you are enjoying your rest or how glad you are to be away from the place; that will put your job at risk for lack of enthusiasm and commitment.
- Do not share secrets – many businesses are private about the way they operate, as this gives them an edge in their market; the information you share could not only result in the loss of your job but lead to the downfall of a company. You jeopardize your position with them, as well as their position in the market.
It would be wrong to think that social media is only detrimental to your career prospects and damaging to your reputation; when in fact, if used correctly, it can actually boost your professional profile and networking abilities. Social media sites such as LinkedIn allow you to express interest in a company or advertise that you are looking for work. It helps you to discover inside connections and broaden your opportunities. The important thing to remember is that if you choose to participate in social media, then you must understand that it is a representation of yourself that you are sharing with the online community; which, in our modern world, is almost everyone.