The rapid advance of social media in recent years has changed our methods of social interaction and behaviour. In many ways, our code of conduct online is different to the one we adopt in real life. Essentially, social media showcases virtual versions of ourselves, which may or may not be truly accurate. Although more of a recent phenomenon, social media has become a stalking ground for employers who want to see beyond the name on the application form.

According to Forbes, a survey of 2,303 hiring managers found that 37% of them scan potential candidates’ social media profiles to evaluate character and personality.

Yes, the curious “this person has viewed your profile in private mode” notification on LinkedIn may well be the employer from the company you just applied to.

So, what are the five social media sins that are preventing you from getting your job offer?

First Impressions
It is true that first impressions last long. The first thing that an employer will see when they search you up is your profile picture, background picture, bio and most recent content. A clear shoulder length picture with a tidy page layout is always enticing. Maybe not for your friends, but for recruiters it certainly looks a lot more focused and professional. A LinkedIn profile picture with 3 filters and a duck face does not shout “hire me!”. LinkedIn, for example, is definitely a ‘professional’ social media platform, so it is vital that your career dedication is projected instantly. The easiest way in which you can do this is updating your online LinkedIn CV of the roles you’ve taken on and the awards you’ve earned. It’s instantly eye-catching. Employers want to see what value you can add to their company and this can easily be picked up through the few lines of your bio or your previous job titles.

Don’t Be A Keyboard Warrior
It is very easy to get involved in public rows or confrontations online. Tweeting insults to a politician or celebrity can seem fun or acceptable in the moment, as in your view you are simply voicing your views, however, it is definitely not received in this way. Yes, it is your profile and perhaps you don’t use it for work purposes at all, but to employers this signals characteristics of disrespect which is a big put-off and is never appreciated by a company. Reputation is absolutely key. A company is presented by those who represent it. Therefore, a company that prides itself on a prestigious and respectable customer service would instantly disregard your application after witnessing that you’ve participated in online abuse or misconduct. The easiest way to filter what you say online is – don’t say what you wouldn’t want to be overheard saying in a coffee shop. It’s perfectly fine to have your opinions. Sure, go ahead and tweet your MP about how you disagree with his stance on economic policy, but do not be perceived as sounding disrespectful or insulting.

Professional vs. Personal
We get it. You want to increase your following count on Instagram and Twitter. Creating a huge network of everyone you know however, does not always make you look more popular and interesting. It could in fact make you look rather unprofessional. Many people fail to make the distinction between their private and professional lives. One minute you may be posting about the progress you’ve made on your work project and the next you’re advertising the club you’ll be partying at for your friend’s upcoming birthday. It’s just not very structured and your audience will definitely be confused. Think of it this way, imagine if your colleague messaged you regarding your weekend plans and asked to join you and your friends – awkward! Therefore, if the content does not apply to everyone, then don’t merge it all onto one space. Filter it, or better yet, keep your professional social media separate from your personal social media. It can be as simple as having your Facebook account for family and friends and your Twitter account for work purposes.

But First, Let Me Take A Selfie
Morning selfie, train selfie or getting-into-work selfie; you can take a selfie for just about any occasion. Your gallery may well be filled with selfies for every chapter of the day. Be careful: publishing some of these occasions may be construed as inappropriate. Posting a sly work selfie with the caption “work got me like…” or a snapshot with your lunch saying “should be working but sneaked some grub into the office instead” is essentially a method of handing in your resignation letter. Exposing your work ‘sins’ or unproductivity will prevent any employer from recruiting you as you are presenting yourself as someone who does not take their job seriously, breaks office rules and is very unproductive. You’re not getting paid to take selfies or wasting time eating beyond your designated lunch hour. They want to see work ethic, and if this is not what you’re portraying of yourself, you cannot expect to be employed on this basis.

The Other Side
Similarly, showing a more exciting side of yourself to work colleagues could make you look more dynamic, although other times it could just make you look like an out-of-control lunatic. Drunken selfies or posting how wasted you got on the weekend is not a good look. No one is telling you how to spend your Saturday night. But at the same time there is no need to update your entire social media network of the unpleasant nitty gritty details of your weekend shenanigans. Just remember, if personable, sophisticated and pleasant is how you maintain your reputation in the real world, reflect this onto your profile in the virtual world. Social media is a space where you can control what vibes and information of yourself you give out. So make sure you refine it so that employers are only receiving the positive.

Essentially, in today’s job market, having a social media presence is almost essential. It helps build a network of those in similar and different industries, demonstrates your interests beyond the workplace and generally how you conduct yourself online. Although it may seem complicated, your social media presence can be rather simple. Filter your personal and professional content and present yourself online the same way you would in the work place in real life. You’ll be surprised how much your application will progress in the recruitment process. Just a few tweaks and it will undoubtedly stop being a prevention of your employment. In fact, in some cases it could help you land the job!

By Ammarah K. Javid for City Gambit

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