Posted July 24, 2013 by

Don’t Let Social Media Stand in the Way of Getting Your Dream Job

Rick Console

Rick Console

As a new grad, you’re likely fluctuating between feeling on top of the world and filled with anxiety. You’ve already worked hard during your college career and accomplished a lot, but you may also be facing bleak employment prospects. In a tough economy, employers can afford to be more selective about hiring new talent than ever. That means it’s not just your educational success, your experience, or even your confidence and charisma under scrutiny. When reviewing your resume and references, don’t be surprised if prospective employers take a virtual stroll through your Facebook profile, too.

How do you know which privacy settings to choose or what information you shouldn’t share on social media sites? Photo Credit: Flickr.

Social media privacy is a partnership. You expect social media sites to respect your privacy and not share your private data publicly or with other companies. However, to truly protect your privacy and make sure your social media profiles don’t interfere with your job search, you need to be careful what information you personally choose to share. Here are some tips for making sure your social media presence doesn’t blow your chances of landing your dream job:

•    Check your settings: Don’t assume Facebook and other social media sites have set the default privacy settings where you want them. Social media sites, especially Facebook, are infamous for changing their privacy policies so frequently that users often struggle to catch up. Stay ahead of the curve by checking your privacy settings regularly, whether or not a given social media site has announced revisions to its privacy policy. For most Facebook users, it makes sense to limit sharing of data such as status updates and photos to friends or friends of friends.

•    Study, study, study: Social media privacy policies are notoriously convoluted documents, more poorly understood by the average person than credit card agreements and government notices. Good thing you have that college education! Take the data use policy just as seriously as you take job applications, and spend the necessary time reading and dissecting the policy to truly understand what it means. In this case, knowledge really is power.

•    Sharing is risking: You’ve heard that sharing is caring, but when it comes to managing your job search, sharing may be endangering your employment prospects. Instead of automatically posting your every activity, rant, and photograph to your favorite social media site, always weigh the risks. Could a prospective employer take objection to that picture of you partying with your friends? Might your thoughts on a controversial topic conflict with a future boss’s opinion? True, in a perfect world, your ability to perform the job would be the only consideration that matters. Unfortunately, employers may base their decisions in part on qualities that are not work-related. These are the same guidelines I give my personal injury clients, because they, too, need to be aware that not everyone on Facebook is using the site just to make friends and keep in touch. Like insurance adjustors, prospective employers in any industry may have ulterior motives for viewing your profile or connecting with you online. The solution is simple – think before you post. Is broadcasting that status update worth the risk of missing out on that next job?

•    Posting with purpose: That doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, use in social media at all. After all, you want prospective employers to know that you’re tech-savvy and in touch with the world around you. Instead of allowing social media to ruin your job search, make it help you. Post updates about training opportunities you take advantage of and career-related books you read. Distinguish yourself from other candidates by establishing a professional blog about your field, and promote new posts through your social media channels. Also, spend some time exploring the social media platform of a company you’re applying with so that you know what the business is all about.

•    Keep your job: Once you find that great opportunity, hold onto it! Everyone has bad days, but don’t post status updates that personally attack your boss, your coworkers, or your company. If you currently have a job but are thinking about moving on, it might be in your best interest to keep your job hunt private. Instead of posting “Getting ready for a job interview!” just tell close friends and family members your exciting news in person, over the phone, or in a private email message.

No matter how much you develop your skills, polish your resume, and prepare for your interview, a single social media blunder can permanently shut down a job prospect. Posting to sites like Facebook is second nature to many individuals, but by simply pausing to consider the consequences of your post, you can start making sure that social media doesn’t prevent you from finally securing that bright new opportunity.

Byline: Richard P. Console, Jr., is managing partner of Console & Hollawell, where he has practiced personal injury law throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 1994. As a small business owner himself and an avid safety advocate, he hates to see people being victimized and taken advantage of – whether on the roads or just online. Mr. Console believes that job seekers are entitled to understand their privacy rights regarding social media.

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