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What does your social media profile say about you?

Andy Bristow of Bristow Holland discusses how our social media profile can impact our employment prospects.

There have been a number of news stories over the last couple of months concerning people in the public eye who have lost their jobs or missed out on pending employment opportunities because of something they have posted on social media in the past.   The media has been full of stores this year about high profile individuals making many a faux pas on social media.  From Donald Trump’s plethora of ill thought out, aggressive tweets and Prue Leith mistakenly announcing the winner of Bake Off 2017 before the final episode was aired, to Jack Maynard being pulled out of the jungle and axed from this year’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! because of his past racist and homophobic tweets.  Whenever I hear of these stories, it astounds me that people in the public eye don’t think more before they put these things out into the public domain.  These people, whose business is their public persona, seem not to give a second thought to how they are representing themselves publicly through the opinions and images they share online.  I am sure that their management teams and PR people have advised them accordingly about protecting their reputation on social media yet, many still seem to post without considering the impact it will have on how they are perceived in the future.

It’s not just those in the public eye that should be concerned with their online profile and how they come across on social media posts.  When preparing candidates for interviews we always make a point of telling them that a future employer will look at their social media pages and make a judgement about them based on how they portray themselves on these channels.  Those drunken photographs from your friend’s stag do last year, if made public on social media, will be visible to a prospective employer, and could be the difference between getting an interview and not getting an interview.  It’s not rocket science - if you don’t want future employers or clients to see it, then either don’t post it or, post it with adequate privacy settings so that only the intended audience can see it.  Prospective employers won’t just look at your professional LinkedIn page, they may also check your Facebook and Twitter pages and if you don’t have the right privacy settings, may be able to see everything.  Furthermore, if you don’t have adequate privacy settings and someone Googles you, they will see things you may prefer were not in the public domain. 

Many of our candidates have separate work and personal accounts for Facebook and Twitter to ensure that their personal social media posts are not seen by those they come into contact with in a professional capacity.  While this is a good idea, if the privacy settings on the personal accounts still enable posts to be seen as public, then anyone searching you can still see these personal posts. It is also important to remember that while a post can be deleted, it can still be seen in the time it takes for you to delete that post and, while it may only be public for a matter of minutes it is who sees it in that time that can do the damage. In the time it is public, a post or an image can be shared, reposted or captured as a screen shot and published elsewhere so deleting it doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t reappear.  The best way to ensure a post doesn’t damage your reputation, is not to post anything that could put you in a negative light in the first place!

At this festive time of year, with the many Christmas parties taking place, it seems pertinent to remind ourselves to be careful not only about how we act when socialising in an informal setting with colleagues and clients, but also to take care about what we post for public consumption on social media during these events.  In this age of over sharing, we need to consider the bigger impact of putting it all out there for everyone to see.  Like it or not, what we share in the public domain presents an image of who we are to those that see it.  We must be mindful of how we wish to be perceived before sharing our thoughts and opinions, along with photographs of ourselves in the very public domain that is social media.

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