Social media, for better or worse, plays a big role in our daily lives. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube, our use of social media can have a big impact on our prospects and the way that we are perceived. Understanding this is incredibly important when it comes to job hunting – but it’s also something that can be easily overlooked – sometimes with unfortunate results.

Yes it does happen here; everyday people either miss out on employment opportunities or lose their jobs because a google search has undone the great impression they’ve made. Don’t let this happen to you with these top tips:

Do a spring clean:

Those hilarious drunken photos from ten years ago may hold some great memories for you, but they could also be sending the wrong message about your current living situation and professionalism. Do a ‘spring clean’ of your social media accounts and remove anything that could be giving the wrong impression.

Type your name into google and see what results come up – be aware that a prospective employer or recruiter will get the same results and yes, we do check! Put yourself in the employer’s shoes: would you hire the person who gets into social media tit-for-tats or posts controversial material that could reflect badly on their organisation?

Be wary of your content:

It is incredibly important to remember that even though your Facebook page or your Instagram account is something that you use in the context of your personal life, these are public platforms. Anything you post, upload, share or like, can be used against you, and context is everything. An in-joke with friends may not come across as “harmless fun” to an outsider, especially if it’s a Hiring Manager. Colourful language, strongly worded political or religious beliefs, inappropriate photos or controversial opinions could backfire when it comes to your employment status.

Set your profiles to private:

Don’t want to change who you are on social media? You don’t have to. But what you can do is take steps to restrict who has access to the information you’re putting up. Set your profiles to private so that only your connections can see your content.

Delete old profiles:

Don’t use social media anymore? If you did in the past, chances are your old accounts will still show up after a basic google search, even if you haven’t logged in for a long time. Get rid of anything that you’re no longer using.

Read your contract:

Many employment contracts now contain clauses regarding social media use. There have been cases where people have lost their jobs because something they posted on their personal social media profile violated their employment contract – even if the post wasn’t necessarily employment related. You only have to look at the high profile controversy between Rugby Australia and Israel Folau to see how this can quickly turn into a big problem!

Make your profiles an extension of your CV:

If you don’t want to make your profiles private, consider editing them to become an extension of your CV or cover letter, showing off your talents, passions and interests. You never know where the next fantastic opportunity could be coming from, so why not maximise the potential of being noticed for the right reasons!

The easiest way to avoid social media pitfalls is to be consistent. If you’re presenting yourself one way in the real world but in a completely different way online, that has the potential to cause you problems. Every time you go to post, share, like or comment, think: would I say this to someone’s face? Would I voice this opinion to my colleagues? Would it bother me if my mum/dad/nana/boss saw this? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to think twice about whether it’s worth it. Because after all, the internet has an uncanny ability to remember!

Good Luck,

Kirsty and Nikki

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