If you fit into the category of the notorious “millennial,” it’s happening to you. Scrolling through your Twitter or Facebook feed when suddenly a name you’ve never seen before pops up. You click on their picture and quickly realize it’s actually one of your friend’s who has gone rogue during a job hunt. They changed their name to their middle name or shortened their last name. In fact, you may have done it yourself.
“But, Jen, obviously changed her name. Why would I want future employers to see all of these pictures of me drinking or partying and that one time I passed out with only my shoes on?”
Tisk, tisk. According to Time magazine, a whopping 95 percent of employers check a potential employee’s social media before making a hiring decision. So, it’s understandable that you would want to hide that information.
But what if you reversed your thinking? Instead of hiding from your employer, market yourself! Make yourself easier to find and make the content on your social media work to your advantage.
Most of what makes marketing yourself properly on social media is based on things you SHOULDN’T do, rather than things you SHOULD do. So, let’s go over those first. Untag yourself in any inappropriate pictures. Anything that has anything to do with illegal activity. If you’re underage and there are photos of you with a drink here and there, you can probably leave it since employers aren’t allowed to ask your age (The only exception to this rule are teachers. I have heard some pretty horrific things in regards to teachers having pictures of them holding a red solo cup or beer in a picture — tread lightly). That being said, if every picture shows you doing keg stands, maybe untag a few of those. Go through your past year’s of photos and posts and make sure there’s nothing there to do with drugs. And yes, technically marijuana is still illegal in most states. Live in a state where it’s legal? You may want to hold off on the 420 posts as the stoner stigma could still be lingering. Guns and alcohol? Though neither of these are illegal for most adults, be wary about excessive posts. Employers aren’t concerned with employees shown with drinks in their hands at outings, but a plethora of pics playing pong or posting that meme about needing to get drunk to deal with humanity can come off the wrong way.
Basically, use common sense. Keep your stuff clean and classy. Always use spell check! According to Jobvite, 66 percent of hiring managers say they would use poor spelling and grammar against a candidate. Oh, and unsurprisingly so, political affiliation and posts can also be held against you. There’s another route you can go… place your accounts on private.
You know what not to do. So, what can you do? Definitely keep your posts clean and appropriate. On Facebook and Instagram, post things about your personal life – you know those accomplishment updates that always get hundreds of likes? Or post pictures of family outings or date nights! You most likely want to share articles related to your interests and industry. It’s totally fine to Instagram a humble selfie (but not too often!) Recruiters use social media for a number of reasons, including to measure what they call a “cultural fit.” Show off who you are! If you volunteer, you should absolutely post content relating to that. Even if you donate regularly to an important cause, humbly post why you feel strongly about them and why others should consider donating. About 65 percent of recruiters say that seeing candidates’ volunteer experience gives them a serious ups.
Now, what about the ever-elusive LinkedIn? Maybe you made one last year and never kept up with it or you’ve had a steady job so you haven’t updated it in a while. Either way, update that profile picture and add all of your experience (Check out a previous post on how to get the perfect LinkedIn). List what school(s) you went to and any big projects you worked on. Just under 80 percent of hiring managers have hired through LinkedIn, so use it to your advantage! Oh, and do look at the LinkedIn profiles of your interviewer, if you know who it will be with. It reminds you of them and shows them that you’re interested and committed. But don’t connect with them until after the interview, and only do so if you think it went really well!
Last but not least: Twitter and Snapchat. They aren’t on a hiring manager’s radar unless you’ve been in the public eye. A regular Jane Doe doesn’t need to worry too much about these two. That being said, never post things on either platform (or any platform) that may come back to haunt you. We’ve all seen horror stories of people losing their jobs for sexist or otherwise off-color tweets coming back to haunt them years later.
Professional vs. Personal
There have been many debates on whether a professional should have a personal and professional Twitter accounts. Many will create a new profile across the many social platforms to cover up things they may be ashamed of employers seeing. However, I’m here to tell you why I decided to create two Twitters and not for the reasons that you might think:
- I wanted a space where I could separate my thoughts professionally and personally. On my personal account, it is more of a place where I share information with my friends and teammates. My professional Twitter has been a place for me to connect with individuals in the industry I plan to be in as well as share industry news without being intrusive to my followers on my personal account.
- I wanted to show the flexibility of my personal brand. My professional brand is what has shaped my personal brand and vice versa. I did not want to intermingle the two, but show that they complement each other in some way shape or form.
- It helps me with time management and to practice with managing more than one brand online at a time.
It’s okay to have two different accounts for the right reasons. However, if you do it for the wrong reasons, it will show through the lack of followers you have. When making the commitment to develop multiple social profiles, be sure to have a plan and know what content you’re going to put out there.