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7 social media mistakes job seekers must avoid

Sarah K. White | July 24, 2015
If you aren't hearing back from recruiters and hiring managers, it might be time to take a good look at your social media presence. Industry experts explain how you may be turning off potential employers.

Don't be offensive

This should go without saying, but you really don't want to be offensive, especially on your public accounts. Clare Hart, CEO of SterlingBackcheck, says her company looks for red flags that include gestures or displays of weapons that might be deemed offensive, anything illegal, excessive profanity and sexually explicit material. Even if you didn't mean something to be offensive, you should consider that the person reading your profiles might not know your sense of humor or personality, and anything you say might be taken out of context. Basically, if it'd be tagged as NSFW (not safe for work) on one of your favorite websites, don't post it.

Don't bash your current or past employers

You've had a bad day at work, where is the first place you turn to vent? It better not be your social media account. Val Matta, vice president of business development at CareerShift, says that if a recruiter or hiring manager sees you've bashed your employer, they won't have any reason to think you won't do the same to their company if they hire you. You want to be careful even if you think your account is private. Security and privacy settings can change, especially on sites like Facebook, and you never know who might be mixed in among your followers. So the next time your boss makes you work late, take it off line and call your friend and hash it out over the phone or a cup of coffee.

Don't misrepresent yourself

Much of what you share online is part of cultivating your image, whether it's true to yourself or not. But when it comes to your job search, recruiters might look to your social media profiles to discover who you really are outside of a professional interview. Megan Ingenbrant, PR specialist from eZanga, keeps an eye out for a lot of partying photos, tweets about disliking your job and instances of oversharing. She feels these can reflect a candidate's work ethic and reliability, two very important aspects of a potential candidate.

Avoid negativity

You don't want to come off as negative to recruiters and hiring managers, because it will probably make you seem like someone they don't want to work with. Try to keep your posts and image positive by sharing your hobbies, being considerate and presenting yourself as a well-rounded person, says Stephanie Abrams and Courtney Spitzer, COO and CEO of SocialFly. They say you should always assume employers are looking at your profiles, because even if they aren't, it's the right mindset to have when using your social accounts.

The rule of thumb

If you still aren't sure how to go about maintaining a professional appearance online, Rob Holmes, CEO of IPCybercrime has one golden rule: "My rule of thumb is, basically, any behavior your mother disapproved of should probably not be public."


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