With the recent surge in use of social media, it is becoming more and more common to hear about people who were fired, or turned down for a job, because of something that they had posted on social media. In fact, 48 per cent of employers who Google job applicants have found something online that has caused them not to hire an applicant. Some simple—and often obvious—steps can be taken to ensure that you don’t fall into this 48 per cent.

Don’t post anything inappropriate online

It might seem obvious, but avoiding posting anything inappropriate online is the best way to avoid conveying a bad impression via your social media profiles. So—what’s inappropriate?

  • Provocative or unseemly photos
  • Comments or photos related to drinking or taking drugs
  • Badmouthing a past employer or colleague
  • Displaying poor communication skills
  • Discriminatory comments relating to race, religion or gender
  • Rants or strong political opinions
  • Vulgar language

Improve your personal brand

We are not saying that you can only post professional, industry-related content to your Facebook or Twitter accounts! Employers love to see information that supports your personal brand (i.e. what people say about you when you are not in the room) or indicates that you would fit in with their culture. So, it’s OK to share hikes you have been on, or concerts you have attended or sports team photos.

Use the account privacy settings

Do you know who can see what posts on your profile? If not, take a look at your privacy settings for each account and set them accordingly. Remember, even if your profile is viewable to friends only, still be cautious about what you post online—you never know who might become a friend of your potential employer!

Have a social media cleanup

You may now be an expert professional social media user who would never dream of posting anything inappropriate online—but what about five years ago? Take the time to look through old posts, likes and comments and delete anything that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.

The power of SEO

Search Engine Optimization isn’t only for corporate websites. You can improve your personal online visibility by using industry keywords and keeping your profile(s) up-to-date and active.

Don’t go ‘off the grid’

With all these potential pitfalls to using social media, you might decide that it’s easiest to completely remove all online information about yourself. Don’t. With more than 90 per cent of employers Googling potential new-hires, they expect to see something online. If you don’t have any online presence, you can appear out-of-date or even raise suspicion about whether you truly exist! 

Here to help

On Tuesday, December 1, Eilidh Sligo from Career Services will be holding a free, lunchtime workshop focused on how you can maintain a professional social media presence that won’t hinder your job search. Join Eilidh from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Library Building, room LB186, for the Managing your Online Presence workshop. Register or drop-in. All Capilano University students and alumni are welcome.

Submitted by Eilidh Sligo, Career Services