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Is social media helping or harming your job search? That all depends on your online presence.
On one hand, an optimized LinkedIn profile or professional website can boost your chances of landing a job. But a Facebook feed with one too many sloppy photos from your senior year spring break trip could hurt your chances.
Fortunately, you can avoid any negative effects of social media on employment by cleaning up your online presence before you apply to jobs. Here are five steps to take so that social media can help your career — and not cost you a job.
1. Start with a Google search of yourself
According to CareerBuilder, 70% of employers in 2017 checked out social media profiles to screen candidates. So it’s important to know what pops up on the internet when you Google your name.
Do an internet search to see what appears. Search in Incognito mode so that your browsing history doesn’t influence your results.
You can also set up a Google alert for your name so you’ll be notified right away when something about you gets posted online. Once you know what’s out there, you can figure out what to do about it.
2. Track down and remove any incriminating photos
If your Google search revealed any private photos that you don’t want a prospective employer to see, find out what you can do to remove them. Maybe you can delete the photos from your accounts or set your profiles to private.
If a friend or acquaintance has posted them, reach out and explain that you’d like them removed now that you’re job searching. By finding the embarrassing photos before a hiring manager does, you’ll have time to clean up your online presence.
3. Set your social media accounts to private
Are your personal Facebook page, Instagram, and other social media accounts set to private? Head into the settings section of each account and make sure you know who can see your information and who can’t.
If you want to shut down a profile, you can deactivate it to remove the content completely. Definitely make it a point to check out your privacy settings so you can prevent employers or strangers from seeing your personal information and photos.
That said, any social media accounts you use for professional purposes can be left public. If you use Twitter for your work and have a decent following, that could impress a hiring manager.
4. Create an impressive and optimized LinkedIn profile
While social media can hurt your job search, there are also benefits of social media in your career search. How can social media help your career?
Well, a thoughtfully crafted LinkedIn profile can impress hiring managers and help you grow your network. Fill in your LinkedIn profile with your updated information, including your current job and past positions.
Craft a bio for yourself so employers have a sense of your experiences, skills, and passions. And make the most of LinkedIn’s social network to make connections with others in your industry.
You might even share a post that says you are job searching to see if any of your connections have leads on open positions. According to LinkedIn, 85% of jobs are filled via networking — so using LinkedIn or other professional networking apps to your advantage could be a huge boost to your job search.
5. Consider making your own website or online portfolio
Outside of LinkedIn, you could also impress a hiring manager with your own professional website or online portfolio. It’s especially important to put together a portfolio if you’re a freelancer looking for clients.
Whether you use a free hosting service like Wix or purchase a hosting plan through Bluehost or Siteground, you could whip up an eye-catching website in no time. This extra effort will prove to a hiring manager that you’re an experienced professional dedicated to your field.
Make your social media work for you, not against you
Most of us have an online presence, and it’s not uncommon for an employer to Google you to see what comes up.
So make sure you’ve set any personal social media accounts to private. And put effort into optimizing your professional accounts, whether you use LinkedIn or have your own website or online portfolio.
While social media can have negative effects on your job search, it can also help you catch a hiring manager’s attention. So when it comes to how social media can help or harm your job search, make sure yours is accomplishing the former.