Social Media and the Workplace

First things first, if you are on social media you are probably guilty of stalking at one time or another. Whether it’s shamefully checking in on an ex on Facebook, trawling through a celebrity’s baby photos on Instagram (Hamish Blake’s son is the ultimate exception to the ‘baby spam’ rule) or seeking out your stylish friend’s secret Pinterest sources. With social media integrated into every aspect of everyday life, the lines between personal and professional have become blurred.

When it comes to applying for jobs, you better believe that there’s at least a chance that a potential employer or employees will come across your online presence. This news isn’t exactly ground breaking of course, but if you just experience a brief shiver down your spine, or simply haven’t put much thought into the matter, now is the time to re-evaluate the way you use social media in a professional sense.

Here is a beginner’s guide for using social media to not only give people the right impression, but to perhaps even help you land a job. After all, first impressions are everything, even if they’re not face to face.

  • Privacy Settings: Lock it Down

When you first signed up for Facebook and basically all other social media platforms, you probably didn’t take much notice of the privacy and permissions settings. Even if you did, they are constantly changing so it’s important to have a good understanding of who has access to what information of yours. As a rule of thumb, all the good privacy settings aren’t the default so it’s a good idea to limit permission as much as possible.

With Facebook for example, you can select certain people to have access to view certain things on your profile. Just for your own peace of mind, try to keep things available to ‘Friends Only’. You can even use these settings to your advantage by restricting family members or colleagues from viewing certain photo albums or status’ for example. This could eliminate some awkward questions here and there. Just a thought.

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Show Off

By making yourself accessible online, it means you can choose what people are more likely to come across if they do a search. This is a great opportunity to get them an insight into your previous work history, achievements, interests, ambitions, networks and so on. While an employer is not likely to accept your application based on what they see on Facebook or Twitter alone, who knows, it could give them a slight push if they can visualise how you might fit in with the company culture or long term goals.

Also, if you haven’t already, create a profile on Linkedin. Your online resume is the first thing a potential employer will look for so why not make it easy for them to find. It is free, easy to use and displays everything they want to know; education, qualifications, work history, volunteer positions, projects, interests, references, and even endorsements from fellow colleagues. Even if you aren’t applying for jobs, it is a great resource for networking and an easy way to find out about upcoming industry events.

  • Keep it Classy: The Internet is Forever

Don’t post anything you don’t want everyone to see – It’s the most obvious point to make but it wouldn’t be right not to mention it. It’s best to assume that anything you post may be revealed at some point (even with all the right privacy settings or once deleted). Once it’s out there, it’s forever and you don’t need to be Liam Neeson to find it.

Don’t bag out your boss or employees – Even though your own personal Facebook account should not directly come into scrutiny in the workplace, there have been numerous occasions where employees have crossed a line while expressing themselves too passionately, too publicly. Also, always be mindful of sharing sensitive information, procedures, documents (even accidentally) about the workplace.

Don’t lie on your resume if it will be reflected on social media – Before the Internet was in full swing, it would have been much easier to sneak a few extra references or experiences to beef up the resume but you need to think twice about it now. For the most part, it will be fine, it’s just a matter of being mindful to ensure that your hardcopy resume will measure up to your online presence (According to FB she was taking body shots in Spain for most of 2014 when she was doing her Masters?)

Spelling and Grammar are still important – No matter what social media platform, no one takes you seriously if not used correctly. Only acceptable if you’re being ironic and even then it’s a stretch.

Don’t overshare, people will get sick of you – Wait until you’ve got something interesting, useful and constructive to offer, otherwise people won’t be listening when you finally do.

Avoid asking/applying for jobs over FB – If it comes up organically that’s different but if an employer has put out a job ad, they want you to response correctly. Spamming their company or personal FB with your resume is not the way to make an impression. If you wish to follow up, it’s best to do it via email or phone call.

  • Turn the Tables

Before your interview, FB is a great source of research about the company you are applying to work with. You can check out the people, the culture, the environment, events and the overall vibe. It will let you know if you want to work there and help you be more prepared for the interview i.e if you have any particular questions etc.

These are just a few ideas to keep in mind when it comes to applying for jobs. An employer probably won’t deny you a position based on your FB profile, but there’s still a chance that they might look you up, so take the opportunity to set yourself apart from others by showing that you are talented, motivated, engaged and suited to the position.