It is now commonplace for people to share all aspects of their lives online. Events like birthday parties, vacations, job promotions, holidays, and even an evening out at a local restaurant, get photographed, video recorded, written about and then shared online; sometimes privately but often publicly. This has all made us more connected with friends and loved ones, which is why social media is so popular. But there is a downside to all this activity, especially if you find yourself in the market for a new job. One wrong photo or comment found by a potential employer can upend your prospects of ever working there.
Over 80% of employers “Google” job applicants. Your resume might get their attention, but your online presence may determine whether or not they invite you in for an interview. Let’s briefly discuss the most popular sites and how they can affect your job search.
Take full advantage of LinkedIn. Your profile will often be the top result when an employer searches your name online. This gives you the opportunity to immediately present yourself in the best light possible. At a minimum, be sure your profile includes your name, current title, industry, location, a completed summary, two past positions if possible, education, three listed skills, at least 50 connections, and a professional photo. LinkedIn will give your profile All-Star status if you provide all of this information.
Once you have a complete profile, mouse over your image at the top right and activate a drop-down menu where you will select Privacy & Settings. Next, under Helpful Links, click on “Edit your public profile.” You will now see a column of checkboxes to the right where you can pick and choose which sections of your profile that you want to be public. Select picture, headline, and summary at the very least. You can add more if appropriate to your job search.
Unless you are in a creative field where displaying your artistic taste on Pinterest or photographs on Flickr will help with your job search, it’s best to adjust your privacy settings on all other social media to private. Keep in mind that privacy changes involving search engines can take a few weeks to go into effect. Also, you can change your settings back once you land a job. Here’s how to go private for the most popular sites.
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There are certain things associated with your Facebook profile that are always public and there is nothing you can do about it. These are your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender, networks, age range, and country. Make sure these items are accurate and there is nothing that might scare off an employer.
When posting updates, any item you share using the “Public” selection for the audience selector tool is available for anyone to see. It is possible to go back and convert “Public” updates to “Friends” if needed. When in doubt, play it safe and make updates “Friends” only. Also, be aware that if other people share info about you, even if it’s something you shared with them but did not make public, they can choose to make it public. You may want to contact your friends and request that they make any content about you private or “Friends” only during your job search. Also when you comment on other people’s public posts, your comment is public.
Something else you should do is limit search engine indexing of your Facebook activity. You can do this by clicking the small arrow at the top right and then clicking on Settings in the drop-down menu. From the menu on the left, select Privacy. The last item on this page will say “Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?” Click on that and make sure the box labeled “Let other search engines link to your timeline” is not checked. Facebook checks this box by default.
Unless you are Tweeting about your industry or job related subjects, make your Tweets private so that only your approved Twitter followers can see them.
A very easy option with Pinterest is simply changing your name and/or using a profile picture of something other than your face. Doing both of these will make it virtually impossible for employers to find and view your Pins. You can change things back once you find a job.
By default, anyone can view your profile and pictures on Instagram. However, you can change the setting to Private so only your approved followers can view them. This change must be done on your mobile device, not a desktop or laptop computer.
Videos posted to YouTube have three options for Privacy Settings: Public, Private, and Unlisted. Make sure all of your videos are marked Private or Unlisted (only viewable to individuals with the direct URL). Also, you can click on your avatar and select YouTube settings. Then go to Privacy. Here you will be able to change or update all of your YouTube privacy settings.
When Vine was launched, everything posted using the service was public. However, in 2013 Vine gave their users some privacy options. iOS users can view their profile and then tap on the Settings button. Android users can tap on the menu button in the top-right corner and select Settings. Then tap on "Your Content." Here you will be able to protect your posts so that only your Vine followers will be able to see your content.
To select the privacy settings for newly posted photos and videos, go to the Flickr privacy page and choose your settings. This will not apply to photos or videos posted before you changed your settings. To change the privacy settings for previously uploaded content, click on a photo or video, find the “Additional info” section, it's located beside “Viewing this photo,” and select the appropriate privacy setting.
Ultimately, it’s about presenting yourself in a way that is appealing to employers, or at the very least, in a way that doesn’t scare them off. Before you send that resume, log out of all of your social media accounts and “Google” yourself. Would you hire the person you see?
Director of Marketing
ATR International, Inc.
Looking for a new job? Read: How to Optimize Your Job Search, A Comprehensive Guide for Every Job Seeker