Can your social media presence be harmful for your job search?

Social media and recruitment: This is an interesting topic to get into with my clients.  

Because  we  now live  in  a  digital  age where we  have  to  accept  the  fact that social media, like LinkedIn, can either make or break your chances of finding a job or can even affect your entire career in the grander scheme of things.

If you’re actively job searching, having a strong online brand that helps promote your skills, experience and your personality positively and  professionally which will  surely  impress  employers.  

On  the  other  hand,  posting  racial slurs, far-right ideologies, controversial pictures and videos or merely sharing rude comments online doesn’t put you on a pedestal, does it?

Social Media and New Zealand Work Culture:
70 percent of NZ employers check an applicants social media

Social Media and your Employability:

Although I will not get into this today, I do recognize that whether  social  media  should  be used in recruitment at all is a controversial argument.  Instead, I’d rather tackle the subject matter by sharing a bit of general advice to our job seekers.

Before  you  post  something  on  social media,  please  think  carefully about  how  it  may  affect your employability.  You may regret your decision later on because once something is on the internet, like it or not, it stays on the internet, or is at least retrievable from somewhere.

Sadly, I saw a couple of innocent post in LinkedIn recently that went viral because someone in the comment section shares a rude comment that then sparks a global-wide online debate.

Before you start giving me the “but it’s their freedom of speech” argument, yes, I am all in favor of freedom of speech but that’s not the point here. Being rude to someone while tagging yourself as “Open for Opportunities” doesn’t really showcase you in a good way, does it?

Unwittingly you are closing yourself off for future opportunities because of these actions. The frequency with which we see this happening as job search coaches, makes me wonder whether job seekers are aware that, due to how LinkedIn algorithms work, your comments can easily be seen by others online (yes, most likely by your future employers as well).

I don’t know about you, but I know for a fact that job searching is already difficult, and I don’t want to create another layer of challenges for myself to solve. Just imagine if the topic of this rude post or comment came up during a job interview, what would you say?

You might think playing the “social media is personal and should not be connected with my work” card is a good idea, but do you want to get into this debate? In an interview no less? You’re not likely to come out painted in a positive light.

LinkedIn  is  also  a  business  and employment-oriented  social  media  platform,  which  meant  for  us  to  show  great business etiquette and manners when we speak to others. So rather than arguing about the legalities and boundaries of personal vs. private life online, I would rather save myself the trouble and just be mindful of what I post. There is absolutely no place for rude comments, racial slurs or negativity in your social media, especially if you are job searching.

How do you make sure your social media will work in your favor?
Here are some best practices I'd like to share:
1. Best judgement
  • Use  your  best  judgement – Think  about  the  scenario  above. What  would  the employers think if they see your post, picture or your comment?
2. Search/Evaluation
  • Search  for  your  name  online  and  see  what  comes  up.
  • Evaluate  whether  something needs to be taken off.
3. Deactivate old social media accounts
  • It might be worthwhile to recall if you have a social media account that you’ve created in the past. There may be pictures or posts there that may be embarrassing for you, if seen by an employer.
4. Spelling and grammar
  • USE  spelling  and  grammar  check  tools – especially  if  aiming  for  a  role  where  your communications  skills are  required! Don’t be lazy, and always proofread what you write.
Last but not least, it may be worthwhile involving a third party to help you check your social media  for  any  blind  spots.  Having a  trusted  and  credible  partner who can  offer  you  expert advice ensures you are optimising your chances of finding a job as a migrant job seeker.
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