If you are active on social media, be aware that what you give to the web and sharing platforms can be linked to your professional profile. Information you post publicly on any account leaves a digital footprint that is fair game for all to see, whether you are a prospective employee or a current one. A first and lasting impression can be reached well before a virtual or in-person meeting is ever scheduled.
Many hiring managers and recruiters review social media sites and public forums, including candidate posts and comments in internet communities. They may make assessments based on the information made openly available. This includes your online username and content found in your profiles and conversations. Employers are legally prohibited from asking about gender identification, race, ethnicity, disabilities, sexual orientation, political views, and religious affiliation – but they don’t need to if a profile is made public.
There are many positive aspects to social media. Employers will use multiple sites to target a wide pool of potential candidates for their available positions and hire successfully through them. This opens avenues for job seekers to circulate their resumes, cultivate relationships with peers and colleagues, and become more visible in the job market. Candidate qualifications can be supported by a positive professional presence and strong following, which will often demonstrate digital, technology, and communication skills. Community involvement, volunteer work, portfolios, and professional awards and recognition related to job performance can also be highlighted.
Social media activity can also have unintended consequences. An online persona reveals the personality behind a resume. Applicant profiles and social circles can be accessed by hiring managers to make comparisons and shortlist candidates. Some profiles don’t give the best overview, particularly when they contain negative behaviors, controversial opinions, and explicit language. Your online identity isn’t just created by you. It is also created by friends, colleagues, and employers. Even if you are vigilant about your posts and commentary, it is important to monitor the actions of your entire network and remove anything that could cause concern.
A common issue for many is how to juggle privacy and openness, especially when they are conducting a job search.
Follow these 5 guidelines to ensure you have a positive and professional online presence:
- Consider two unlinked accounts to keep your professional portfolio separate from your private image. What you share personally may not be appropriate for a professional account.
- Be mindful about where you are tagged and what you like, comment on, share, or subscribe to. These can be seen publicly throughout your social network.
- Review and scrub accounts for any misleading, negative, or inappropriate content before you begin your job search. Problematic posts include provocative or inappropriate photos or videos, and overly opinionated comments related to legally protected groups. Delete them.
- Watch your language. Consider the perspectives of others when choosing your words and tone.
- Make use of privacy settings. Monitor your accounts and trusted groups and fine-tune with regularity.
While networking and connecting online are both expected and encouraged, how you engage and interact on social media platforms has the potential to either showcase you as a top candidate or take you out of contention. Hiring managers and recruiters may be influenced by what they see across all your social media sites. A good rule of thumb: Keep it professional or keep it private!
The faculty and staff at Center for Advanced Legal Studies are committed to helping students achieve their career goals. We are experts in paralegal education committed to student success. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or visit paralegal.edu to learn more.
Director of Outreach and Career Services
Tami has an extensive and varied professional background that spans criminal justice, paralegal education, and international school marketing and communication. Her career has been guided by a focus on developing strategic partnerships that facilitate school growth and student opportunity. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Degree in Criminal Justice from Texas State University.