Right now, there are nearly 4.4 billion users logged in to internet use. Of that, 3.5 billion users log into social media platforms, making the number of people available at your fingertips astounding.
In the hunt for new opportunities, there is the pressure of the perfect resume, the engaging cover letter, the cordial conversations, and the firm handshake- but today, we also have to think about that less-than-flattering picture posted in 2013 or the status update shared with friends and family in the heat of the moment. Our social media presence is not only out there for grandma and grandpa to see, but also for current and future employers.
The world of social media has taught us a few things. Besides showing us how easy it is to connect with people worlds away (does anyone actually really know the People You May Know that Facebook suggests?), but social media has also allowed us to show the best and worst versions of ourselves. A quick snap of a cocktail glass on a Monday night two years ago once caused some comments early the next morning at work saying that I must be hungover, because “we all saw your Instagram post.”
What we post on social media has a long-lasting effect. How we present ourselves on social media can sometimes be the first impression that employers see of you. A quick search bar search of your name and city can pull up multiple social media accounts, and despite thinking that your privacy settings are on lockdown, what is posted is out there forever.
The biggest lesson is to be careful about what you post. Even if it is sharing your own opinion in what you think is your own space, as social media posters, we have to remember that nothing is shared just with friends or family. I’ve received countless screenshots of something someone I don’t even know has posted, and if an exciting ad about cheap airline tickets got to me that quickly, imagine how fast users move if it’s something deemed juicy or risqué.
While the counter-argument is that we should never have to censor ourselves, approaching how we post on social media in a professional manner is a conversation. There is nothing wrong with sharing opinions or images, that is not what employers are against, it is in the manner in which it is done. Hurtful words or threats, even in a moment of frustration or anger, show an employer a side to the poster that they do not want to address in the workplace.
So, before you hit POST, think of these three reminders to make sure that your Instagram post isn’t costing you any potential opportunities:
- Would you want your employer to see your post?
- Are you airing feelings at the moment, or is this how you always feel? It may seem right to share a comment about that unpleasant cashier, but how will you feel about it three hours from now
- Is this something the world really needs to know about me?
By being mindful of how we are living online, not only will family dinners be a little bit more comfortable, but we won’t have to worry about our name being whispered in the break room for that off-color comment made online.