Social media can be a job seeker's best friend ‒ or their worst enemy

Social media is a powerful tool for anyone embarking on a job-search journey. As a smart and savvy seeker, you should know that social media can help recruiters to discover you and that you should regularly monitor the results for your name on popular search engines. Perhaps even more importantly, you should remember that in this day and age, we live in public. The controversial opinion, scandalous picture, or photo of your latest boozy weekend getaway isn't just visible to your friends ‒ it's visible to your future boss and co-workers, too. 

Maintaining your online presence matters for all professionals 

HR Managers evaluate candidates by their online presence. Thus, having a pristine LinkedIn profile and an impeccable online reputation is important (just as important as a well-crafted CV and cover letter). You never can be too careful and, after seeing recent survey data from UK employment law firm Slater and Gordon, we thought it apt to remind our readers that when it comes to social media, the personal and professional are often intertwined. There's no real difference between your "professional" posts and your "personal" ones, as social media posts made in a personal context can still be viewed by your boss and colleagues. 

Social media is a public forum, which means sharing information and opinions in this setting is the same as printing it in a newspaper or speaking at a public event. Before you put anything on a public space, it's crucial to consider whether it is something you would be comfortable saying in front of your boss or within the workplace. If the content doesn't pass that test, don't post it.

The effects of an unprofessional post aren't just limited to job seekers, either. Slater and Gordon's survey data found that one in every 10 Brits has experienced consequences at their current job from an unprofessional social media post, such as a provocative image, a post bad-mouthing the boss, or images with alcohol and drugs. The repercussions aren't limited to just a dressing-down from the boss, either ‒ you can legally be dismissed for bad online behavior. 

You can be dismissed for bad online behavior

Slater and Gordon lawyers reported in their survey that "it is legal for employees in the UK to be dismissed if they act online in a way deemed to be offensive, harassing, or detrimental to their employer's reputation." Even if your post's content isn't relevant or applicable to your day-to-day job duties, UK companies are within their legal rights to take action if they feel your representation harms the company. 

Professionalise your social media profiles

Our career expert, Amanda Augustine, has penned a list of helpful tips that can ensure you're putting your best digital foot forward

It's vital for job seekers to carefully monitor and manage their social media activities to ensure their online personal branding improves, rather than worsens, their chances of landing the job. It all starts with a simple Google search.

Her advice encompasses everything you need to keep top of mind as you seek to professionalise your own social media profiles, including:

  • Review your privacy settings - only your closest friends and family should be able to see what you post

  • When in doubt about a piece of content, delete it

  • Consider using a pseudonym or nickname on personal accounts that you don't want your current or potential employer to find

Taking the time to monitor your professional brand online matters. One bad post can not only prevent you from getting a job, but it could actually lose you your current job, too. 

Make your CV as tidy as your online profiles. Get a free review from TopCV to discover how your CV stacks up.

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