Social media, in its various forms, has become our main mode of communication and expression in the modern digital age – that’s a given. We post thoughts, tweet gifs, filter ourselves on Instagram and generally proport to be someone we aren’t on a daily, minute by minute, second by second, basis.
Normally our “openness” with these posts is broader in scope than we realize. Nothing reveals this more than a quick glance at analytics, whether they be on a website like this one or on Twitter where impressions are everything. I, myself, have overlooked these metrics in recent years, forgetting that my follower count isn’t necessarily the real picture of how my words, images, and reactions impact public perception of my name.
In the past 24 hours, my tweets and responses to tweets have garnered roughly 30,000 impressions. That being said, I do tweet…a lot. During my time in the Dallas/Fort Worth media market, I became very aware that public information officers were using the outlet to update the world, in real-time, much faster than they were updating via email or phone.
It’s part of the changing landscape that is the 21st century, and it comes with a lot of unspoken pitfalls. Most people don’t realize how often employers are bypassing their resume and doing a quick Google search of their name.
We’ve all seen the swift and unwavering backlash when someone affiliated with a media outlet posts something overtly opinionated, controversial or questionable. It has led to many people’s firing, suspension, or career decimation.
As such, should you, like me, be in the job market, you need to overhaul your social media accounts now rather than later. Employers want to see active engagement, thoughtful posting, and a generally pre-accumulated audience that they are comfortable attaching their name to.
As much as we like to think our work and personal lives are separate – it’s a joke in current times.
I spent the past half of a decade orchestrating what used to be known as a “Google bomb” on my name. I used my resources to dominate (read: search engine optimization or SEO) my namesake and take over the first page of results. Further, my goal was to place the most positive aspects first.
SEO, as it has become known, is a must-know for anyone in the media field and it is often overlooked by reporters and management alike. What IS looked over, quite thoroughly, is what we post on social media.
I’ve fluctuated on this topic from my own standpoint. For the longest time I refused to post anything personal or opinionated on my Twitter. The decision was mostly based on journalistic integrity – if I was using my handle to report, it couldn’t purport to be unbiased. Should I return to reporting, with it’s handle as a part of bio, I would return to such a rule.
As for now, I’ll continue posting funny gifs, photos and thoughts as a part of my general “newsie” thread of following stories in a wide range of markets. That’s due to the fact that employers also want to see a personality. Albeit, treading the line between “too little” and “too much” is akin to walking the wire a thousand feet above a canyon.
Instagram, on the other hand, comes with its own curveball. A locked account screams “something is hiding in there” yet open accounts bring their own considerations.
My IG account was locked for the longest time but I found that hashtagging photos became useless given no one could index the hash unless they were already a friend. My follower count and likes hit a halt.
Realizing that, I’ve unlocked the account and purged anything that might detract from my image as someone who would be a possible representative of a bigger brand/corporation. Sacrificing shirtless pictures, kissy snaps, and catty memes is a small price to pay compared to a paycheck and the chance to run with the big dogs.
When it comes to Facebook, my only advice is to use the audience filters for your postings, religiously. My page itself is searchable but only about 10% of my posts are actually visible to the public. Outside of profile photos, not much else can be gleaned (including my friends list). The site itself encompasses our world in a way that is virtually inescapable outside of deleting yourself off of the site. Even then your data remains.
Lock it. Check your privacy settings. Delete any and all posts that might shed you in a negative light should an employer find a workaround to view your profile (trust me, I’ve done it).
DELETE, DELETE, DELETE
Sure, my openness with my sexuality (gay, gay, gay) is still flagrant, and always will be. It is a part of who I am and what I’m about. There are some parts of our lives that simply can’t be put on the shelf. Employers know this, and should one of those things not sit well with them – it isn’t a place you’d want to work anyway.
Job-seekers in 2018 need take heed the warning: your resume needs to be up-to-date, always, but your social media is an unspoken, searchable, part of that. You’d be ill-advised to think of your resume as black and white.