It’s no secret that social media has become one of the most powerful marketing tools available to individuals as well as companies—over 2 billion people have Facebook profiles alone. However, with great power comes great responsibility: social media is fast becoming one of the easiest ways to land yourself in hot water with your employer. Fresh examples of misbehaved “socialites” appear in headlines every day, and more than 70% of businesses have reported conducting disciplinary action on employees for violating social media policies.
Proper grooming applies to more than your cuticles, it’s becoming necessary to the ways in which we interact online daily. Whether you like it or not, investing just a few minutes in tidying up your social media presence can go a long way into building a healthy, professional (not to mention personal) reputation for yourself.
Here are 5 ways that anyone can clean up their online presence.
We brought along some gifs to help.
1. Think before you post
Here’s a quick litmus test if you think a post straddles the line: Would you say it in the office, in front of coworkers you don’t know? If the answer is “No,” don’t post it! Regardless of your intention, seemingly harmless things like sarcasm or even righteous anger are easily misinterpreted and taken out of context online. The easiest way to control the way people interpret your tone is to keep it offline in the first place…yes, even if your accounts are private. We’re not dragging your ability to give a good read (that’s a transferable skill, right?), but you’ll save yourself a world of trouble by keeping your darker thoughts offline.
2. You are your own brand
As a professional with a social media presence, you may not be responsible for representing your company, but you’re still representing yourself (which is arguably more important). Having a sleek, polished presence on all your public social media accounts is important to attracting your target employers, but it also acts as a kind of 3rd party reference, lending evidence to what you say when you meet them in person.
Master your own unique tone that is engaging without condescension, and you’re on your way to a gleaming profile. Additionally, on sites like LinkedIn where you’re connecting with other business professionals, put some contour on it. Don’t be afraid to break out your inner Jonathan VanNess and serve up content with confidence–give us video resumes, give us shiny referrals, give us those glittering portfolio samples.
3. Take the Goldilocks approach (without the hair)
How often should you be posting to attract positive attention without seeming overly self-indulgent, you ask? Too little content shows that you’re not actively engaged or up-to-date and can leave folks open to wondering if the picture is really complete. On the other hand, too much content or unfocused, stream-of-consciousness posting can also be problematic. Often it reads insecure, self-absorbed, or attention-seeking, regardless of whether or not it’s true. If you’re unsure about your content, revisit Point one.
4. Keep it current
Approaching your 30s and still referring to your high school internships as “work experience”? Cancel it.
Instead, put some thought into creating a “best of” highlight reel. What are your best moments, and how do they tell the story (professional or personal) that is uniquely you? Is there a skill or strength that can thread your story together? Make your accomplishments a central theme instead of your previous positions. Remember, you are in control of your own narrative—it’s okay to leave some of the minor details out.
5. Know Your Audience
When building a social media network, the people who engage with you are just as important as the content you create. Are you surrounding yourself with people that help you build a positive presence? Or are you having to constantly police the comments on your own profiles? Knowing exactly what kind of audience you have could very well make or break your reputation, especially if you’ve built yourself a highly-engaging platform.
It should be noted that if an employers is looking at your online presence without adhering to federal guidelines or without your explicit consent, you have every right to question the integrity of their pre-hire process. Every employment candidate has rights under the FCRA and EEOC, and it is always recommended that employers seek a third-party screening solution when it comes to the sensitive information that can be found online.
Happy career hunting!