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Social media: does it help or hinder your job search?

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It’s no secret that employers often perform online presence background checks. Avoiding embarrassment by association is a large motivation for those looking to hire; often, searching social media profiles happens even before the first interview and a single red flag can drop you out of the race before you’ve laced your shoes.

Many of us have fallen into the habit of sharing our lives with strangers on the internet, and this everyday normality has for some caused a relaxation of any filter we may have had. The question we set out to answer is this: is your social media presence holding you back, and can it be used to get you ahead?

Considering Facebook is the most popular social media platform we can safely assume it’s the first place an employer will look. Facebook offers the option to only display specified posts and content to lists of people; this takes time to set up, but if you’re an avid user it’s definitely worth it. Setting your content to friends only allows you to continue posting those party pics and questionable memes to your friends,  offering a layer of privacy while job searching.

Twitter and LinkedIn are also platforms an employer will use to  research a candidate. Both have options and tools in place to block unknown people from viewing, but neither are built to be hidden. Linkedin, used for work related networking, should always retain professional information. Twitter has been commonly used as a platform to share snippets of your thoughts and opinions, something that can not only stop you from being considered for a job, but has also cost others the job they currently hold.

Being active on social media is an option, not a necessity, but having no presence at all can be seen as antisocial. While job searching (and even after you’ve landed that dream job), here are a few suggestions on the type of posts you should avoid:

  • Drugs & alcohol
  • Lewd or sexually explicit posts
  • Excessive profanity
  • Political rants
  • Violent imagery

That’s not so bad, is it? There are still plenty of acceptable topics and tips for maintaining a professional presence online:

  • Proper spelling and grammar (if you struggle with this, there are browser extensions available)
  • Share the positive aspects of your life; vacations, camping trips, sports, etc.
  • If you volunteer, highlight it!
  • Are there any charities you donate to? Share their posts!
  • Your pets
  • Achievements & accomplishments

The goal here is to provide suggestions that when utilized, will make your friends thank you, and employers hire you – not to lobotomize your personality. Social media is a fantastic tool to network, stay in touch with friends and family, find a job and be heard.

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