Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

5 Ways to Avoid Career Crippling Mistakes on Social Media

Yesterday I received LinkedIn mail that hit me like a brick. A progressive young man, searching for his dream job with my organization, sent a message that spoke to all the traits I look for in the ideal Healthcare Sales Professional.  I thought – this is exactly the guy I want on my team.

A quick scan of his LinkedIn profile gave me very little insight to his experience or expertise. It was the standard online resume. STRIKE 1.

I clicked to his linked Twitter profile and his prolific use of expletives was impressive. I had never known someone to use cuss words as nouns, verbs, pronouns, adverbs and adjectives – in one sentence! STRIKE 2

At this point I just wanted to see what else he would be foolish enough to put online for the world to see. His Instagram account was full of seemingly innocent golfing and fishing pictures. Except – most were posted during prime selling hours. STRIKE 3

Facebook photos of shotgunned beers. Tell-all blog posts about a relationship gone bad. Inappropriate Instagram selfies. Twitter arguments. Lots of foul language…

Google’s web crawlers find our deepest darkest mistakes – instantaneously. There is no such thing as the disappearing Snap. What you put online lives…forever.

Customers are checking you out

Maybe you plan to stay with your current company until retirement and aren’t worried about potential employers seeing your party days. Not so fast!

A 2014 International Data Corporation survey showed that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to support their buying decisions. Your customers are checking you out.

A few inappropriate comments or photos could land you in some extremely hot water and even cost you some business.

Potential employer’s due-diligence

A 2016 Careerbuilder survey found that 60% of recruiters use social media to research job candidates before an interview. In sales, a whopping 65% of hiring managers use social media to screen candidates.

Your online rep will either help or hurt your chances of landing a new gig. Here’s the type of content employers have found during back-ground checks that prevented them from interviewing/hiring candidates:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information – 46%
  • Information about candidate drinking or using drugs – 43%
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 33%
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee – 31%
  • Poor communication skills – 29%

Did you just say…

“I don’t have any social media accounts.”

“All my social media accounts private.”

Here’s the problem – 41% of recruiters are less likely to interview candidates if they can’t find information about them online. At a minimum, you need a complete and active LinkedIn profile.

5 Ways to Avoid Career Crippling Mistakes on Social Media

Before you can create a killer online presence, you have to audit all of your entire digital footprint. Here are five steps to self-auditing your social media presence.

  1. Google yourself – The first step to a good social media audit is figuring out exactly where you show up online. If you have never cleaned up your old posts, be ready to bury your head in your hands at least once! Start by googling your name and city to determine what people see when they look you up. Make a list of all your social media accounts so you can start the audit.
  2. Review photos – Take your list of accounts and go through every photo! Audit your posts and remove anything unfavorable to a future employer. Sure, you should remove or hide obviously bad things, like shirtless gym selfies or a shot from a wild St. Patrick’s Day party in 2009. But don’t let sneaky posts get past you. Funny memes that reveal too much about your politics or extracurricular activities can put you at a disadvantage.
  3. Step into the viewer’s shoes – There are 2 types of people, funny people and those that think their funny. Your sarcastic wit may not translate in text or seriously miss the mark if taken out of context. Evaluate your content through the eyes of someone you’ve never met. If anything may turn off a hiring manager or customer, hide it or delete it.
  4. Check your friend’s list – Prospective employers and customers could be interested in who and what you interact with online. You should routinely unfollow or disconnect from people or pages with suggestive profile images or posts. If you’re working hard to develop a good reputation, you don’t want to ruin it by being associated with someone else’s bad decisions – thanks Travis Kalanick!
  5. When in doubt, delete – It can be difficult to keep up with all the social media platforms you want to use. If you haven’t touched an account in a few years, get rid of it altogether. The less you have to keep up with, the easier it is to keep your online reputation in good standing.  Myspace and CafePharma are still searchable.

Once you’ve cleaned up your old accounts, switch gears and focus on improving your online presence. Spend five minutes to upload professional profile photos, update your experience on LinkedIn (check out this post on how to create an All-Star profile) and make your personal Facebook and Instagram profiles private.

If you’re not sure whether or not to post something, just remember this golden rule: information on the Internet lives FOREVER. Even if you delete it, there’s a good chance that it could be resurrected long after you have forgotten about it. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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