Social media apps like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all hot spots for people to waste time while at a coffee shop or during a commute home from work, but, all too often, they’re also death traps for content that might be a bit too risque for some companies. That’s right, as we’re all well aware of, the Internet can be a daunting place, serving as reminders of regrettable decisions from years prior — just ask current NFL rookie quarterback Josh Allen, who, on draft day this year, had some old tweets from high school surface that could have effected his draft status. Fortunately, for Allen, his old social media posts didn’t appear to bury him, but they could have.
While many of us think there’s no harm being done when we post a picture on Instagram of us with some friends at a bar on a Friday night, when those types of photos litter your social media accounts, it raises a huge red flag for hiring managers. That’s right, guys, if you think that hiring managers are just looking at your LinkedIn accounts and not others social sharing accounts, you’re just being naive. In fact, in some cases, the content that you’re posting online could have a direct impact on whether or not you hear back from an employer. After all, companies want to build a culture, and allowing a person who posts vulgar or risque content on social media may not be the best fit for doing that.
So, how can social media impact your career? Here are a few ways that hiring managers are stalking your every move through these apps, along with advice on how to manage your accounts.
Liz Ryan, a former HR executive for Fortune 500 companies and current contributor to Forbes, said in a recent article on the site that HR managers have a variety of things they’re looking for in Linkedin profiles. The three most important, in our opinion, would be having a good photo, a clear summary and, somewhat surprisingly, a healthy dose of hobbies/activities. While the first two should be no-brainers, the last one, hobbies/activities, might be overlooked.
According to Ryan, by including such activities, it allows a hiring manager to see “what you read, follow and care about,” and shows a side of you that can’t be seen on a professional resume.
Instagram is all about photos and videos, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that those are the first things hiring managers look for on the app. That said, it’s more than just seeing what you post as much as it is how you post. Look, we all have pictures of us at breweries with friends, but, are your pictures of a group sitting around the table, or of you absolutely hammered and representing yourself poorly? That clearly makes a difference.
Another thing hiring managers look for on Instagram are your followers. More importantly, what type of people are following you and whom are you following back? Naturally, you want to avoid any bots who promise more followers, but, in terms of whom you’re following, hiring managers want to see how you interact and what you’re interested in during your free time.
As was the case with Josh Allen and the NFL Draft, old tweets can come back to bite you. We live in a day and age where the Internet community can be ruthless and trolls exist, so be careful with what you say. That can be difficult to monitor if you’ve tweeted 10,000 times since 2010, but it’s important to be mindful now.
When it comes to hiring managers and Twitter, this social media app can be your best friend or your worst enemy. That’s because employers are digging up your interactions on there, seeing how you engage with a wide community on trending topics. Are you retweeting important articles, or bashing someone who disagrees with your opinion? Do you have any mutual followers with the hiring manager? What topics to feel are important to share your thoughts on, or are you just spewing off a random stream of consciousness, a la Kanye West? These are all things hiring managers consider.
While Facebook might not be the social media app that most people use as frequently anymore, it’s still important to have the most up-to-date information about yourself on there in order to represent who you are. To be more specific, hiring managers are looking at two sections of your Facebook profile: The “About Me” portion and your pictures.
When it comes to your “About Me,” make sure you clean up any old info from your college days that you haven’t even thought about since 2015, just to be sure there aren’t dead links to random websites or quotes from a sophomoric comedy that you used to live by.
Naturally, for your pictures, untag yourself from any unflattering photos or of you under the influence of some sort of substance. Those are great (hazy) memories to have with friends, but aren’t exactly the best representation of you as a professional.
Remember, while social media is supposed to be a little view into your life, overdoing it can lead to major consequences when it comes to your career. For better or worse, you are your own brand, and hiring managers are digging deeper to make sure your personal brand meshes well with their company objectives, so don’t overexpose yourself by posting too much online.
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