I remember the first time my then-new boss revealed to me that he had used my personal social media as a way to find out who I would be as an employee. I was slightly stunned. Yes, all my life, older adults would say, “Be careful what you put on that Facebook, because everyone can see what you’re putting there.”
I mean I knew it was a possibility, but when I began my job search in the summer of 2016, I never even thought to audit my personal accounts to make sure I was exemplifying the professional life that I was claiming to live in a wide range of interviews.
Luckily, I’m pretty light with the posting on Facebook. And if you’ve ever seen my Instagram, it’s just a gazillion pictures of my dogs essentially. But even still, his words made me think- how am I advertising myself on my social media?
Now if you work in a field that is relaxed and nonchalant, this probably isn’t something you need to worry about. But I did an audit of myself, and after Google searching my name, I had a much clearer idea about what people were finding when they looked for me online.
There’s always a certain amount that cannot be controlled online. People with the same names but opposite lifestyles or old accounts from years ago where the login information is long gone are definitely beyond your control. But for the social sites that you use on a regular basis, I would suggest cleaning it up just a smidge, in the name of Professional Advertising.
“But I can’t control what other people tag me in!”-You, most likely.
Did you know that you can review everything that people tag you in on Facebook?
Yeah, in your account settings, you can dig around and really help protect yourself from embarrassing things appearing on your timeline the morning after a crazy night out. I review all things I’m posted in before they are allowed to premier on my profile, because yes, I want to limit what the general public knows about my private life. And sometimes I’m not a fan of my double-chin making an appearance online.
And did you know that you can completely lock your profile from being found? You can be the one who chooses who finds you online.
You can appear to the general public as if you have no Facebook profile. Until you ask to be someone’s friend- but you can be selective about who you connect with!
You may also want to consider something we call in the Marketing World, “Brand Recognition”.
If you work in a field that operates primarily online, you understand how professional a company is by the layout of their website, and the uniformity of their online presence. When you find a company that is all over the place, no consistent logo or company descriptions, and really abstract content, you tend to not trust that company whatsoever.
Same really can go for you- if you claim to be a Marketing Guru, you better have it together online. In some ways, the 21st century will expect that your social media acts as a sort of “online portfolio” whether you like it or not. So when you say on a resume, “Social Media Account Manager”, not only will they view those social media accounts that you supposedly manage, but your personal ones as well to see if there is an air of consistency.
LinkedIn is not the only site you need to audit anymore. Spend time reviewing your timelines, feeds, and boards as if you were on the outside looking in.
About once a month I like to review all of my social media accounts, delete certain content that isn’t relevant anymore, untag myself as needed, and view my pages from an outsider’s point of view. This has now translated into how I use my accounts: I only post very relevant, truly important content. I still keep up with other people’s accounts, and post pictures of my dogs, but I have stopped posting useless Buzzfeed videos and replaced it with thought-provoking articles.
I’ve taken down all photos in which half my head is shaved: I’m not ashamed of it, in fact, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in this life (but that’s for another time). But for someone on the outside looking in, thinking, “Should I take a chance on this girl to be the best possible person for this job?” Well, they just could jump to conclusions before getting to know me. So I avoid giving someone a reason to quickly judge me, and keep that fun fact tucked away in my pocket to share after I’m an essential part of the team.
Not everyone will agree that going to these lengths is necessary, but whether you like it or not, the internet is an endless portal of information, some of which revolves around you. And because you have the capability to alter it and shape it to show who you truly are, (that is, a professional adult just begging their dream company to take them seriously) it would be entirely too irresponsible to let your opportunity to make the absolute best first impression possible via the interweb slip past you.