By Caroline Banton
Social media is a big part of many people’s lives, and it can be a great tool to help build and maintain relationships, and for general self-expression. LinkedIn has 396 million users, Twitter has 307 million active users, and Facebook almost 1.5 billion active users, according to Statista.com.
However, social media can easily lend itself to blurring the line between users’ personal and professional lives. And any information, good or bad, posted to social media can be difficult to delete once it’s out there. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to become a more responsible social media user. Read on to find out how social media can hurt your career and how to avoid social media mistakes.
YOU BROADCAST YOUR OPINIONS
Your resume reflects your professional and academic achievements, but very little about your character and personality. In contrast, your social media posts reflect your opinions, beliefs and personal information. In 2010, 78 percent of recruiters used LinkedIn to find candidates. That number rose to 95 percent this year, according to recruiter training website Social Talent.
There are data mining companies that collect information to create a report about you that can be sold to companies.
Recruiters have also been using “people aggregators,” which are sophisticated tools that build profiles of candidates based on their postings on and across a multitude of social networking sites, such as Facebook, GitHub, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Stack Overflow, according to EREmedia. This might work in your favor, or not.
“It’s subjective, of course … I’d say the simplest way social media can be damaging is if a candidate appears unlikable,” said Donna Talarico, a communications expert. “Likability is so crucial. If someone posts a well-formed thought about a hot-button issue, it might not appear negative. But if someone rants constantly, that could make the person appear negative and combative.”
Any company can buy data that reveals your likes, dislikes, opinions, religious views, sexual orientation, activities, lifestyle and behavior. Monitor your social media sites constantly and think twice before you post.
YOU HAVE NO ONLINE PRESENCE
While posting certain information can be detrimental to your career, not posting any information can be just as damaging. A professional online brand or presence gives you exposure to companies and employers, even when you’re not actively seeking a job. Without this presence, you’re off the radar.
Only 4 percent of recruiters do not use social media when looking for potential candidates, and 72 percent consider data analytics to be very important in the hiring process, according to the JobVite Recruiter Nation Survey for 2015.
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Social and professional networks are the second most popular way to find candidates, the survey found.
“The second way (social media) can be damaging is if it is nonexistent,” said Talarico. “I’m so surprised at the people I see in my industry (who) don’t use the tools themselves on a regular basis … if someone doesn’t have a social presence, it could be telling as to how social media-savvy they are. Getting your hands dirty is the best way to prepare.”
“It’s important to include work samples and professional attributes that make you stand out,” said James Meincke, a former recruiter and a marketing manager at CloserIQ, a recruiting platform for sales and tech companies. “Recruiters only spend a few seconds on a LinkedIn profile, so make sure they notice something interesting.”
YOUR POSTINGS ARE PROLIFIC
Heavy social media use can give the impression that an individual is more preoccupied with social space than work. Dannielle Blumenthal, co-founder of All Things Brand, said that she had a negative response to her Facebook activity.
“The single most daunting area of concern for me has been the perception that I am on social media ‘all the time’ when, in fact, this is far from the truth,” she said. “I happen to write extremely quickly and can multitask fairly well … And I (use) it, mostly, during my personal time.”
Keep your posts “genuinely useful,” establish goals and keep them in mind when you publish, she suggested in a recent post on her site.
Caroline Banton writes for GOBankingRates.com, a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt.