Everyone has heard stories of somewhat careless individuals publicly posting inappropriate things on their social media profiles that have gotten them into trouble – maybe it was the teen who got fired for a vulgar tweet before she even started her job, or the PR executive that posted a racist joke while she was on a flight to Africa and found out she was no longer employed when the plane landed.
The solution is obvious: be careful about what you post on social media, and if, for some reason, you just can’t help yourself, at least lock down your profile by either adjusting your privacy settings (so that only some posts are publicly visible) or making it completely private (so that anyone who wants to see your posts requires your approval).
While this can keep your current employment safe, this can backfire if you’re searching for a new job. While some employers might do a quick look over your social media profiles to look for racist, sexist, other rude behavior that would embarrass the company, they’re also attempting to research your personal brand and, by extension, your personality. Simply hiding anything negative is helpful, sure, but without anything positive, it might convey you as rather bland, or even uptight.
Of course, it’s not like an absence of social media/internet profiles doesn’t mean you won’t get job offers. But if a company is deciding between two similarly qualified candidates, it’s possible they would rather extend an offer to the candidate with a variety of posts that express passion for their industry and/or their non-work-related hobbies.
When you Google yourself, what comes up?
The first thing a curious hiring manager will do after looking over your (hopefully immaculate) resume is Google your first and last name. Obviously this differs for everyone and is largely dependent on how common your name is, but for people with more uncommon names, their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles pop up. For those with their own personal or professional website, that may also appear in the list of results as well.
Recently posted jobs:
Other social media networks don’t require your real name to be displayed, like Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit, so if you have any of these accounts that are under a different handle, they obviously won’t show up. This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on the type of content you post. For example, if you typically get into heated arguments with strangers and post inflammatory remarks on Twitter, and your username is your real name, and your account’s avatar is a picture of you – that won’t look good. However, if your easily-discovered Twitter profile consists of interesting links, constructive dialogue with other users in your industry, and the occasional witty joke, then you’re doing all right.
If your personal social media accounts use a unique handle that won’t come up in a search, should you create secondary, “professional” accounts that include your full name so that they appear in search results? It’s certainly an option, but not a necessity. However, occasionally posting thoughtful, relevant content on Reddit or Medium using an easily recognizable and identifiable username can definitely supplement your personal brand and personality – especially if your content gets a lot of traction in the form of likes, shares, and upvotes. Being recognized for something you posted online by a hiring manager or interviewer is always impressive.
Consider creating a professional website
A lot of technical or creative professionals have their own website to showcase their portfolio of projects and accomplishments, and it’s becoming more common among workers in other industries as well. Setting up a website not only shows that you have the initiative and technical acumen to do so, but gives you another “profile” for you to establish your personal brand.
One of the best things about having a professional website is that it can display whatever you want to promote yourself. Some people may utilize this new piece of online real estate for their portfolio, some may start a blog revolving around relevant topics in their industry, and some may simply throw up a single static page that details how to get in contact with them.
Whatever you end up putting on your site, it’s also a good idea to include links to your professional social media or other networking profiles. That way, anyone interested in learning more about you can easily find them. Additionally, this gives off the impression that you have nothing to hide, which may give you advantage over other job candidates who have scrubbed the internet clean of any sort of online presence.
Not every hiring manager will go through the effort to comb through pages of google results to find out more about you, but supplementing your resume with a link to your website or social media profiles allows employers to judge whether you will be a good cultural fit for the organization. Finding out if a qualified candidate is also a good fit for a company’s culture continues to be difficult to assess, so if you can make a hiring manager’s job easier by offering them a look into your personality with your online presence, it will make you look all that more impressive.