Do you currently have a job, or plan on having a job in the future? Chances are you answered “yes” to that. Now my next question: do you have any social media accounts?
I bet most of you said “yes” to that too.
We live in a technological world and while our social media may be used more for our own personal use, it can affect out professional lives as well. I wanted to talk about this because I’ve recently had to evaluate my own social media use in order to be a teacher. It’s something everyone should keep in mind since there’s a VERY good chance that your (future) boss is going to look at your social media pages before deciding whether or not to hire you.
I want to add a note here for teens who are going out into the world, who will soon be getting jobs and applying for internships, getting ready to go to college: your social media pages are an extension of you so think about that when you start posting.
Why should you care?
In this world, your future boss will look at your social media. I’ve talked first-hand with potential employers who told me that they look into their applicants’ media pages extensively before they decide who to interview, let alone who they’re eventually going to hire. This means it will affect you either now or down the road.
Does this mean you’re doing something wrong right now? No.
Does it mean there are things you can do to protect yourself and give yourself the best chance at getting a job? YES.
How do I give myself the best chance at a job?
Search your name, any aliases or pen names, your blog name, other usernames you’ve used and attached to your name. Look for it all. Do an IMAGE search. See what comes up. Does anything raise even the slightest warning flag in the back of your head? PAY ATTENTION TO THAT. Make note of what you need to look into further if you can’t do it in the moment.
Take the “Family” Test
This will depend on the type of job you are applying for but my general rule of thumb is to ask yourself “would I share this with my grandparents?” If the answer is yes, you’re probably okay. If you’re questioning it or saying “definitely not” then perhaps it’s not something you should share or have on your account.
General Taboo Topics/Images
There are some topics I’ve heard mentioned time and again that employers generally DON’T want to see in posts or images.
- controversial topics (politics, religion, etc)
- vulgarity/explicit language and images
- use of substances (drugs, alcohol, etc.)
Does this mean that you can’t share posts with these kinds of contents? No. Does it mean you should consider whether you should share something or not? Probably.
How do I protect myself?
No one is going to make you do anything. Y’all know that. So if you don’t want to delete something or not not post something, that’s totally your call and really will depend on your individual situation. But there are ways to protect yourself if you still want to post something that a (future) boss might not like to see.
Lock/Protect Your Accounts
This is a pretty simple one. Most, if not all, social media platforms have the option to have a private or protected account. This is a great way to give you the power of who can and can’t see your content. Often, these allow you to decide if you want someone to follow you or not, or it can keep your content completely private. Facebook has a LOT of settings for each of its components so I recommend viewing your profile as the “public” and as a “friend” to see what they can see (this is an option in your security settings).
Keep Separate Personal & Professional Accounts
Another solution that may require a bit more work is to keep separate personal and professional social media accounts. It can help to also keep those personal accounts under a pseudonym completely disconnected from your professional account so that if an employer were to search your name, those private personal accounts wouldn’t appear
Store “Problematic” Content on a Private Drive/Folder
If you want to keep images or posts or something else that may be potentially problematic when it comes to applying for jobs, you can keep it in a private folder or drive on your computer, a hard drive, etc. so that you still have it but it’s not publicly available in any way. This is likely an extreme step but an option if you need it.
When it comes down to it, your social media presence says something about you so think about how others might perceive what you’re posting and what they might think about you. It’s all going to depend on who you are and the kind(s) of jobs you’re applying for so some of these tips might not be relevant to you, but I hope they get you thinking about what kind of statement you make online!