Before you apply for that next job or even contact your friend about that upcoming informational interview, you need to take a good look at your social media profiles. Are they updated? Are they accurate? Do they reflect the type of person you want to be? If not, you have some work to do.
Checking social media profiles is now as much a part of the hiring process as reading resumes. According to Career Builder, employers check Facebook and LinkedIn the most often, but any social network, from Twitter to Pinterest, can be mined for potential job candidate information.
What does that mean for you? It means that you need to treat each of your social media profiles as a potential resume. Take LinkedIn, for example when is the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile with new, relevant career information? Do your LinkedIn connections reflect where you want to be in your career? Have you both given LinkedIn recommendations and received them? Your LinkedIn profile needs to be updated, relevant, and an accurate portrayal of where you want to go in your career.
Your Facebook profile, however, needs to show a potential employer that you know how to balance work and life, and that you understand what it means to be a professional on social media. Believe it or not, an empty or absent Facebook profile is even worse than an overly full one. By having an empty profile, you are letting employers know that you are an internet luddite, a person who either does not know how to use social media or is unwilling to engage with it.
However, if you have a carefully curated Facebook profile, one that presents you in a positive light, you can prove to an employer that you have what it takes to be a productive team member both inside and outside of the office. It’s time to start curating your Facebook posts and photos; show off the flattering pics, the ones that show you engaging with family and friends, and delete the rest. Photos and posts that reveal you being active, like the pics of you running a 5K or visiting the Grand Canyon, are also catnip to potential employers. Avoid anything negative or potentially offensive. Remember that Facebook is now your public face to the world, so make your profile as attractive as possible.
You also need to make sure that hackers and other people aren’t able to take control of your social media profiles without you knowing. We’ve all received that strange “did you see this pic of you” spammy post from a social media contact, the one that spreads virally through social networks if you make the mistake of clicking the link. Now imagine a potential employer receiving that spammy message from your account.
This means you need to make sure that you have updated internet security programs installed on all of your home computers, including programs that focus specifically on threats that compromise social media accounts. As the Trend Micro website notes, dangerous links and other threats spread virally through Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, and email. Spam links and other unsavory content can also show up in your public social media profiles if you’re not careful. It’s your responsibility to make sure that no one is able to post to your social media accounts except for you.
If you’re starting a job search, or even sending out feelers about a potential career change, look to your social media profiles before you make that first contact. After all, what do people do these days when they want to learn more information about someone? They turn to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media profiles, of course. Make sure your profiles communicate exactly what you want to present to the world, and you’ll be one step closer to getting the job of your dreams and hopefuly making a little extra money.