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You’ve all heard about the nightmare scenario where a weekend filled with semi-appropriate behavior ends up on social media only to be seen by your current or potential employer and co-workers. The fact is that social media can be a big help in your job search, but it can also backfire and keep you from getting hired. In fact, social media, when used incorrectly, can actually put your current job at risk in some instances. So, how can you utilize social media platforms well without putting your job search or career at risk? Here are some do's and don'ts of social media that will help guide you as you build a presence that will attract the right kind of job opportunities.

DO’S OF SOCIAL MEDIA

1. BUILD A SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

Before discussing the do's and don'ts of social media, you first must have a presence on social media. If you have a presence online, people who are interested in hiring in your niche are more likely to discover you. If you do not have a presence, you’ll struggle to connect with people offering career help. 

On the other hand, if your social media presence is not quite the professional image you want to portray, now is the time to build it. Update your social media pages, or start them, and make sure they reflect the professional image you want to portray.

2. GOOGLE YOUR NAME

If you want to see what potential employers would see about you online, Google your name. If you find something unflattering that you posted years ago or something your friend tagged you in that you’d forgotten about, remove it. Make sure the image that comes up when you Google yourself is crystal clear and the professional persona you want to portray.

3. USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO SHOW YOUR SKILLS

Even on pages like Instagram or Facebook that are more personal and less professional by design, you can still use social media accounts to showcase skills that apply to your field. For instance, if your future job will involve marketing or writing, make sure your posts are meaningful and use proper grammar. You can even start a blog and showcase your writing abilities in that way.

If your future career is more technical or mechanical in nature, then use social media to talk about this in a way that shows your knowledge. If someone Googles you during the job search, they will see that you are a competent professional in your field.

4. THINK BEFORE YOU POST

College students often forget about their future career goals when posting on social media, and that can be one of the biggest social media mistakes they make. If you go to a big party on the weekend, don’t post the pictures to your Instagram or Facebook accounts. Remove tags from images that might put you in a negative light. It is vital that there are no unprofessional pictures of yourself anywhere on your social media pages or connected to your social media pages while you are searching for a job.

For example, a picture of you acting drunken or disorderly is probably not the image you want a potential employer to find. A good rule of thumb is if you would not be comfortable with a grandparent or parent seeing the picture, it should not be posted online.

Similarly, do not post anything online that could be viewed as offensive. This includes the obvious racist, sexist, or lewd postings. It can also include rants about companies that could be potential employers at some point. And avoid badmouthing past employers, which can be hard if you were fired unfairly. The recent firing of Gina Carano from The Mandalorian because of her social media postings shows just how quickly the wrong post can lead to career problems.

5. DO FOLLOW (THE RIGHT) PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD

On your social media pages, find the companies and professionals in your field that also use that platform. Follow or like their pages. Get to know them, see how they present themselves, and learn about the drivers in your industry through their pages. While this may not lead to a job offer, it will help you present a more professional image on your pages. Try to interact with these pages and people as you grow your professional network.

6. DO USE YOUR PLATFORMS TO NETWORK

One of the biggest social media mistakes job seekers make is failing to use the platforms they have to properly network as part of their job searches. Once you have those social media pages set up and ready to go, use them. This is a valuable place to network and make connections in the field. Join groups, discussions, and chats that are relevant to your job search so more people know about you and your career goals. Remember, too, that networking moves in two directions. If you see a great opportunity for someone that you’ve networked with, let them know. They will appreciate the effort and likely return the favor if they get the chance.

DON’TS OF SOCIAL MEDIA 

1. BE LAZY

During your job search, don’t be lazy with your online presence. Post regularly, and thoughtfully, so that people will know you’re in the market for work. The more active you are online; the more effective your social media profiles will be at helping you find a job.

2. FORGET TO CHECK SOURCES BEFORE SHARING

Social media's social nature means you’re going to share things from other people or pages. Before you re-tweet or share a post, check the source. Is it a source you want associated with your name? Sometimes a perfectly clean and funny meme may come from a less-than-desirable source, so find a different way to share to avoid tarnishing your reputation.

3. LIE

You wouldn’t intentionally lie on your pages, hopefully, but inconsistencies can come across as falsehoods to potential employers, even if they were fully unintentional. On your social media pages, you will be able to list contact information, resumé facts, and similar data about yourself. This needs to match all of your other online presences—and your resumés. There should never be factual mistakes or mismatches among different social media pages, as this will hurt your validity in the eyes of a potential employer.

4. DON’T IGNORE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO) IN BUILDING YOUR PAGES

As you build your pages, particularly on LinkedIn, pay attention to important keywords. While you need to be proactive in your search, you also want people to be able to find you. With keywords in your industry as part of your resume and experience information, you are easier to find when companies have openings in your field. This can help you build a strong network that can translate into good employment prospects.

5. DON’T FORGET TO CHANGE YOUR FACEBOOK PRIVACY SETTINGS

Facebook offers several privacy settings that help you take control over who can see what on your page. One easy way to protect yourself is to tighten up those security settings to ensure strangers, such as potential employers, only see a minimal amount of your posts. Keep in mind that allowing “friends of friends” to see posts can open the door to more people than you think. You never know—that friend of a friend could be the hiring manager of the job you’re chasing, so keep those security settings tight.

Sometimes, education can be a key component of your job search, and University of the Cumberlands can help with that. If you are interested in learning more about the undergraduate or graduate degrees offered at University of the Cumberlands, contact an admissions counselor or request more information today.