Fifty-two percent of recruiters say they always search for social media posts during hiring, and what they’re seeing often isn’t flattering to job candidates: alcohol or drug use; a profile that links to an escort service and revelations about activities in a demonic cult.
Still, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what you need to post to boost your professional image online, to make yourself seem more relatable and capable. Without the right content, you may sabotage not only new job opportunities but saddle yourself with a less-than-flattering professional reputation that can follow you for years.
Lori Randall Stradtman, author of “Online Reputation Management for Dummies,” says that the first rule to establishing your online professional reputation is to remember that trying to build a following by being provocative may not always work. "Unless you want a reality TV spot, don’t do it,” she says.
If you’re new to the social media arena, you might want to start with Google+, as the Google search engine will help you get higher visibility, she says.
“Google plays favorites, so if you’re on Google+ it will help a boss or potential employer find you faster,” she says.
Not sure what to post? Try thinking about hobbies that can make you relatable – something that is “authentic” so that others can feel your passion about the subject. Just be careful that some of your interests – such as acting out the various roles in “Fifty Shades of Gray ” – are left offline, she says.
“You want to post stuff that your grandma can see,” Stradtman says.
Here are some other things to consider if you want to improve your professional online presence:
· Twitter is read by everyone. A 10th grade teacher in Colorado was fired after various tweets about drugs, hinting that she was grading papers while stoned. Another woman was fired after tweeting Halloween pictures of herself at work dressed as a Boston Marathon bombing victim. Stradtman says Twitter’s free-wheeling nature can make you forget that your boss and co-workers are reading your tweets, not just your friends. “It seems harmless in the moment, but it you’re trying to build a positive reputation it might not be the best place to direct your energy,” she says.
· Facebook can help you make connections. You can also use Facebook for professional visibility, such as joining professional groups, sharing links that others in your industry might find useful or connecting with other professionals who share your interests.
· Put some effort into LinkedIn. Recruiters often check LinkedIn looking for “passive” job candidates (those who aren’t actively looking), so it’s a good place to make your mark. It’s also a good site to join groups and connect with others in industries that interest you. It’s also a great way to get recommendations from others. “Join the communities that are available because it’s a great way to build trust – and connect to people who can help you get a job,” she says. Make sure you complete the entire profile so you don’t look like someone who leaves a job undone.
· Smile! LinkedIn says that those with a profile photo are 14 times more likely to have their profile viewed that those without one. You can also get more “likes” by posting a photo on Facebook. Just make sure these photos show you in a professional light.
· Don’t overdo it. If you decide to launch a blog and post about your interests, it’s a big time commitment and can backfire if you lose interest. “You have to post fresh content, and you have to redesign the website every couple of years,” Stradtam says. “It can look deserted if you don’t keep it going and it can become more of an albatross.”