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Is your social media employer-proof?

We all know how important it is to make a good first impression, especially when it comes to getting a job. H&M has just announced a fantastic initiative, loaning out a navy suit for 24hours to ensure you can look the part for your interview (more on that here), but what if you make the effort, research the company, land the interview, but then your social media lets you down?

Total Jobs has five ways to employer-proof your social accounts, and they are brilliant so we wanted to share them with you.

1. Prepare a great online CV on LinkedIn

You might think your LinkedIn profile is safe, secure, and completely appropriate, especially because it has a delightfully professional head-and-shoulders photograph of you looking rather suave in your sharpest business attire.

However, keep in mind the jobs you’re listing too, including how long you were there, your responsibilities, and any recommendations. The generally accepted rule on CVs is that you don’t lie on them, so don’t do it on your LinkedIn profile.

And just like a CV, don’t sell yourself short either, make sure you use interesting language, list all your skills and experience, and ask for endorsements and recommendations from friends and former colleagues.

Why is this so important? Well, a good LinkedIn profile can take the limelight away from your more ‘fun’ social profiles. “I will always check out a LinkedIn profile before a candidate’s Facebook, Twitter, etc.” says Oliver, a head-hunter based in London. “It’s what it’s actually there for, and so if it’s good I will feel confident enough that the candidate is professional so there’s no need to snoop any further”.

All well and good. But on LinkedIn you only get one photo to display, as we all know other sites have no limits…

2. Hide embarrassing or unprofessional photos

In terms of photos, keep the exposure of flesh to an absolute minimum. Or just make sure your photos, or your whole profile ideally, is set to private. It’s important to think about how professional you look in photographs when your eyes are glazed over, forehead is sweaty and your hair is beyond a bird’s nest after a few too many.

Although the recruitment process is becoming ever more engaging, with increasing numbers of employers claiming to want to really get to know candidates, there still is, and will forever remain to be, a very definite line, and the understanding of how incredible you looked riding the rodeo in nothing more than hot pants and an ill-fitting shirt in Vegas is way beyond it.

3. Delete any contentious posts

Remember, jokes don’t always work so well through media or the written word in general. With no tone of voice or facial clues, what you might think is a pithy witticism might in fact translate as utterly terrible.

“I checked out a candidate on Facebook last time I was recruiting for my sales team”, recalls Steve. “I didn’t expect any of the applicants to have open profiles, let alone anything untoward on them. But this particular guy had a status about Jimmy Saville… I mean, I could tell it was meant to be a joke, but the fact it was for anyone to see made me question whether he actually cared if a potential employer saw it, and what if they took offence? That attitude put me right off!”

4. Think twice about posting

#First world problems? Don’t even mention it. Went to the gym, completed a full day at work and made your own dinner? Congratulations are not in order. This sort of social network banality is awful enough to friends and family, think about how your employer could perceive it.

I know we keep traipsing back to this point, but your employer(s), professional peers and colleagues probably don’t want to know THAT much about you. If you’re really insistent on having your work and social life cross over or blend entirely, at least don’t be whiny, dramatic and neurotic in what you post. Just saying.

5. Where applicable, make your content private

It’s relatively straight forward yet the numbers that fail to do this are alarmingly high. Delve a little deeper and actually take the time (and when I say time, usually under 2 minutes) to find the account settings for your social media page and adjust the settings.

Facebook in particular lets you alter individual aspects of your profile and activity to be available to different groups or contacts. You can even set things to open or private to everyone except specific individuals. It might sound a smidgen spiteful, but very handy and absolutely essential to keep professional eyes off your unprofessional self.

Ultimately though, regardless of whether an employer looks, just think carefully about what you put online. In 1996 if you were rocking out to Oasis at Knebworth when you were meant to be in work, nobody had a smartphone or a digital camera in order to stitch you up in a photo or a status on the pages of your social network. Now, it’s a whole different story.


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