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Don't Let Social Media Sink You

Social media offers today's job seeker more opportunities to connect with employers than ever before.  You can use these tools to reach out to people working in your industry and even hiring managers at your target company.  However, with this access comes risk.  When you put yourself out there, the content that you post can be used against you.  Here are common mistakes that can turn your social media presence into a liability:  

Discrepancies between resume and social media.  Some employers will compare your resume with your profiles on social media.  If there are any inconsistencies, the employer may believe that you are not being completely honest.  For this reason, it is important that nothing that you put online contradicts your resume.   

Posting unprofessional content.  The most common mistake on social media is posting content that gives the employer a bad impression of you.  This includes photos of yourself drinking or doing drugs, inappropriate language, comments about your religious and political views, or anything else that will make the employer raise their eyebrows.  If it's important to you to express yourself on social media, make sure that your privacy settings specify that only your friends can see your posts.  

Slamming your current or previous employer. It is never okay to publically criticize your employer on social media.  Even if you are speaking the truth, when people read it, they will always think that you are in the wrong.  If a potential employer sees it, they will never hire you.  

Your profile reveals poor communication skills.   The ability to communicate effectively is essential to almost every job.  Employers may look at what you have posted online to assess these important skills.  With the exception of LinkedIn, employers don't expect you to be formal on social media, but if your posts are riddled with spelling or grammatical errors, it will not leave a good impression.

No social media presence.  With all of the potential pitfalls, you might be tempted to shut it all down.  Unfortunately, not having an online presence is also a red flag.  At a minimum, you need to have a LinkedIn profile that presents you as professional and knowledgeable in your industry.                  

Many employers consider it to be due diligence to review the social media profiles of candidates who they are thinking of hiring.  When you are posting anything online you should always consider what impression the post will make on potential employers.  If it makes you uncomfortable, then either don't post it or change your settings to private.                                                                                                                                                                     

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image by