Not many of us think twice about the things we share or post on social media platforms but it turns out, controversial, insensitive and offensive posts unbecoming of a respected professional can cost you that job you’ve always wanted. For the precautionary ones, here’s how you can clean your social media profiles effectively.
The all prestigious Harvard University recently rescinded admission offers for nearly 10 students when they found out they were sharing offensive memes on a Facebook Group. Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it? In a similar fashion, a PR executive who found out she had lost her job while she was on an airplane, for something she posted on social media hours ago!
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Over 70% of employers admit to screening potential employees’ social media accounts, and for people with eccentric social media personalities, this double-edged knife can have catastrophic repercussions if not handled carefully. Embrace the knowledge of how you can clean your social media profile and get it job ready.
If you’re just out of college and looking for a job that kickstarts your ambitious professional journey, here are some tips that can help you clean your social media profiles and avoid any future run-ins with the HR department.
Well of course. The first step towards cleaning your social media profile involves understanding what constitutes unprofessional, objectionable and in some cases, vulgar behaviour, and what doesn’t.
A few things that are wildly unacceptable are any controversial and inflammatory political or ideological posts, drunk pictures or pictures that your parents would probably get mad about; abusive or vulgar language even among friends; videos or images of drug use or any such related activities; outbursts against a previous employee or company, and more.
A professor from the York University lost his job for social media posts that were considered to be anti-Semitic in nature.
You don’t need to put out the image of a person that has the personality of a Buddhist monk, although coming off as an unsavoury person that one wouldn’t want to be a part of their organization is where most employers would draw the line.
After you understand the things that can and will be considered objectionable or offensive, begin by evaluating all your social media profiles one by one.
Facebook being one of the most popular social media platforms is often preferred by employers to be screened first, and you can begin by vigorously going through all your Facebook pictures and albums for anything objectionable.
Second, hunt for all the tagged photos of you and remove tags or ask your friends to take them down, whether it’s a picture of you doing something silly with friends, or a drunk shenanigans photo. If deleting isn’t your first option, you could always restrict the visibility of these contents to only friends or a custom list.
On Twitter, rummage through all your Tweets, Likes and the list of people you follow, obviously for anything that could give your future employee an impression of unsuitability. Also, pay extra attention to your username if you share an affinity towards handle names with profanity, slang or other weird stuff, do away with it.
Instagram allows you to put your account on Private Mode, and if you really don’t intend to keep it on Private in fear of losing out on all the Likes that the hashtags bring, you’re gonna have to start cleaning your Instagram account too.
Now, you need to be hard on yourself here.
There are things that paint an image of the kind of person you are, whether it’s pictures of you as a fun-loving traveller, kitchen king or gym freak, and then there are pictures that could perhaps best be deleted immediately.
Now once you know all the things on your social media profiles that need to be done away with, start getting the job done. Delete all those offensive, profanity-laden status updates, profile pictures that are too edgy, all your rantings and ravings on social media, and the questionable places you have visited and felt the need to check in from.
Repeat the same. Every questionable post that you feel could hurt your chances of employment needs to be deleted, and if you don’t want to lose those memories, change the privacy settings on them.
Twitter sadly does not offer any privacy settings, and a locked Twitter account only shows you do not know how to use Twitter. Be very careful and delete everything that you wouldn’t want your boss to see.
4. Change your social media behaviour
Let’s make a fresh start. This includes changing your profile pictures on all platforms to something civil and sombre. We understand you might love that picture of yourself cannonballing into the pool, or flexing your bicep at the gym, but that is a strict no-no for open platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Instagram is a much more personal space and you can let your hair down out there, responsibly of course.
If you do feel inclined to share pictures of yourself at a party, or memes that could border on the offensive, stick to social media platforms that offer much more privacy such as Snapchat, or a WhatsApp group of your close friends.
It doesn’t just include ‘not doing certain things’ but also needs you to start doing certain things.
Whatever industry you prefer to associate yourselves with….
1. begin projecting your knowledge about it,
2. start following the leaders of your industry,
3. stay up to date on all the world events and the happenings in your industry.
Employers screening potential employees is a double-edged knife, because the first part involved not cutting down your chances of impressing the person screening you, and the second part is using that edge to carve a place for yourself in the mind of your employer, albeit positively.
Displaying the understanding and know-how of your industry, staying up to date on world events, and basically not being a jerk on social media are all things one should consider when attempting to make a favourable impression.
Always display good judgement when uploading, sharing or posting anything on social media platforms that portray yourself as irresponsible, vulgar, offensive or any such qualities considered undesirable by an organization or brand.