Your online presence may have started out as nothing more than a lark. Things have undoubtedly changed today though. What was a niche service for friends and family though has quickly become a far more public commodity.
Now it’s common for employers to research potential candidates by studying their online presence. Current employers might check up on current employees to understand more about their individual values and lifestyle. There are also colleagues who might do this on behalf of the employer and alert them of any untoward behavior.
If you want to get ahead in your career, showcasing your best features and talents on an individual profile has to be more than just posting photos of what you did last weekend. We’ll look at some tips on what you can do to revamp or create a profile that will highlight your best features — both personally and professionally.
The Nature of Social Media
It’s easier to work with social media when you begin with the right premise. If you think of it as a fixed point, it will be far more difficult to navigate. Instead, you have to think of social media as constantly evolving to fit the needs of the people that it serves. Much like a normal economy, virtual information can be used in different ways, depending on when and how it’s accessed. So while most social sites are marketed as fun and playful, it’s helpful to understand how your content will be evaluated by someone who doesn’t know you.
Start with Facebook
Facebook is marketing, branding, and networking all-in-one, and it’s a popular place for colleagues and employers to check in first. There are a number of ways to use the site to your advantage, which is why every choice you make should have some degree of strategy involved.
For instance, you might choose to make all of your posts private so they can’t be viewed by anyone outside your personal circle. (Security and privacy have become more important to Facebook, making this a viable option.) However, this could make someone potentially even more suspicious of your character. They might question whether you’re trying to hide something.
A better option might be to make your profile relatively public and to clean up posts that could prove controversial. Status updates that reference your relationships or political views can inadvertently reveal information about you that you would prefer to keep to yourself. Photos that show off your partying skills or beach body may give the impression that you aren’t to be taken seriously.
Some people will opt for a mix of public and private posts on Facebook, making it possible for friends and family to see more personal updates. So if you wanted to post about your housewarming party, you could choose to keep that information to a select group.
Review Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is marketed as a professional website, but you might be surprised at the volume of personal information that some profiles contain. Because this website is similar to other social media platforms, namely Facebook, it can start to feel like little more than an extension.
While you still want to lean toward professional on sites like Facebook, you inherently have more leeway to what you post. For instance, a group shot of you and your friends as a profile picture on Facebook would be perfectly acceptable. However, the unspoken professional rules of LinkedIn are a little more stringent in this regard.
A LinkedIn picture should ideally be a simple headshot, preferably one that was taken by a professional photographer in your most professional outfit. If you’re going to post anything on LinkedIn, it should showcase subject authority in your field. Politics, anecdotes, and playful conversation are generally discouraged. Instead, try to stick with posts about education, industry trends, innovations, or work events.
With Facebook, you can likely get away without updating your profile very often. However, considering LinkedIn is often searched explicitly by employers, you should be listing your achievements as they occur. For instance, if you get a promotion, hit a revenue milestone, or get a new certification in your industry, make sure that it’s easily found on your profile.
Watch Your Stories, Posts, and Updates on Instagram
Instagram is still largely seen as fluff in the public eye and less so for business, so it’s less critical to keep yourself out of trouble on this platform. Keep in mind that this can always change though, and even if it doesn’t, you should still clean up your page if it’s overly revealing.
If you’re not going to take down some of the more risqué photos and videos, consider switching up your settings to ensure that only close friends can see the highlights of your last pool party or the rules of your latest drinking game. Remember that a public profile is one that can be searched in-depth without having to first be approved as a follower.
Comment Sections Matter
There’s a lot of debate about free speech these days, especially when old posts or comments can quickly go viral. What starts out as nothing more than an off-hand remark can take on a life of its own, potentially causing far more harm than someone could have ever imagined at the time. Social media etiquette for students and for employees alike needs to prioritize politeness.
Our digital culture makes it possible to save and share everything, even if it’s deleted seconds after it’s made public. It’s turned many people’s worlds upside down, particularly when they’ve changed their minds after making the comment or at least gained a broader perspective about the topic. One of the most important things you can do is to refrain from anything that could be considered harassing or bullying.
Finding Your Style
When social media was created to give people a taste of your real personality, it can feel stifling to tame your profile based on what an employer might think. You can also likely think of at least a few people who were able to get ahead primarily because they leaned into a controversial viewpoint or attitude.
These social media etiquette tips aren’t meant to limit you though. You can still be yourself on social media without giving your current employer or future employer pause. The goal is to rethink how you go about sharing certain information. If you don’t want it in the hands of someone who could use it against you, it’s usually best to refrain from posting it at all.
Regardless of what field you’ve chosen, paying attention to how you come across is a good habit to get into. It can be what gives you the edge the next time you’re up for a promotion or to getting a better-paying position that you truly deserve.
If you’re looking for additional ways to get head, Goodwill’s My Career Advisor has a number of resources to start planning your future. From live classes to webinars to legal counseling, job seekers can take action today to get more from their search. Signing up is not only fast, but it’s also free.