Your guide to social media

As social media grows in popularity, more employers are beginning to use platforms such as LinkedIn as a way of screening candidates. This guide will ensure your social media profiles are ready for a professional setting.

LinkedIn

The bulk of professional engagement on social media occurs through LinkedIn, as it is used as a tool for networking and recruiting in many industries. Here are some top tips to ensure your profile presents you in the best light.

  • Your profile photo should be as neat and professional as possible. Photos on nights out or with large groups of people are not acceptable.
  • Ensure that all your contact details are up-to-date and are appropriate to a professional environment, i.e. sensible email addresses and any other alternative information.
  • Create an appropriate work and education history with accurate and relevant information. You do not need to include every educational establishment you have attended. High school, college and university will be enough.
  • If you wish to write a profile summary, keep it brief and relevant to your current employment situation.

With regards to posting on the site, avoid anything non-work related as LinkedIn is not Facebook. It is a much more professional platform and should be treated as such. This means you should avoid “selfies”, updates on your social life and any sort of political affiliations. Also, avoid contacting other users for anything other than professional matters. Messages sent with a purely social intent are not well received and should not be the way in which you use the messaging feature.

Twitter

This is one of the platforms that many people, both in and out of employment, make mistakes on; with many examples of people losing their jobs over interactions on the site. Some ways to avoid these pitfalls are:

  • Do not post any extreme social or political views on the site, regardless of if you believe they are valid or not. You do not know how an employer will react to them.
  • Avoid using any extremely crude or vulgar language or images.
  • Do not post anything relating to your current/former employers.
  • Any images of you or any of your associates engaging in anti-social/illegal activity should not be posted.

In the long run, it would be highly beneficial to keep both your real name/face from your profile and set the profile to private. This will aid in stopping anything controversial or inappropriate which you may post being tied back to you. Setting your profile to private will not only stop internet trolls and a fair amount of unwanted negative posts being targeted at you, but will also prevent anyone who you have not approved, viewing your profile.

Facebook

This is the platform where mistakes most often occur. There are several steps you can take to ensure your Facebook profile does not lead to any negative situations in the workplace or during the application process. These include:

  • Enabling tag review on your profile, to ensure that no inappropriate photos or posts end up on your timeline.
  • If in doubt, set the settings such as who can post to your timeline and who can see your tagged posts eitherto friends or only me.
  • Most importantly, set your privacy settings with regards to who can view your profile and those who can look you up using your email or phone number to friends only.

On this platform, it is best to err on the side of caution. Facebook offers the facility to view your profile as a member of the public who is not on your friends list. Use this feature, as it will allow you to see your profile as a potential employer would, and thereby enable you to adjust your content accordingly.

Instagram

It is unlikely that an employer will check your Instagram page as it is not often a platform of interest. Despite this, photos taken during nights out, or that are in an any way suggestive, are unsuitable if your profile is public, and I would strongly recommend either removing these or changing the privacy settings on your profile. If you have any doubts with regards to how appropriate your photos are, don’t risk it and set your profile to private.