With high unemployment rates nationwide, competition for jobs is fierce. Just as it’s easy to look good on paper but interview poorly, it’s also possible for an excellent candidate to fall behind in the interview process due to his or her social media profile.

A Facebook page loaded with pictures can be a great way to remember good times with friends, but keep in mind who will be viewing the profile. A photograph of a groom-to-be exchanging engagement rings with his fiancée will likely be met with smiles and congratulatory comments.

Photos of the raucous party that might follow the proposal aren’t likely to be met with the same favor. Here are some guidelines for cleaning up an online profile and staying in the running for that dream job.

1. Change privacy settings

Privacy settings on sites like Facebook can be set so that only user’s friends can see his or her profile and more. Many privacy settings default to ‘friends only’ but a job seeker would be wise to make sure his/her profile is protected from simply anyone’s view.

2. Be mindful of status updates

Applicants should always be mindful of what they have said online about their coworkers, bosses or company. Blog posts or tweets that rant against a former employer aren’t likely to sit well with a potential boss, no matter the circumstance that caused the outcry. Save the rants for pen-and-paper journaling and save face online.

Similarly, off-color jokes should be avoided. Tone can very difficult to read online, especially when observed by someone who might not understand a job applicant’s sense of humor. Don’t try, for instance, to offset a tasteless quip with a bevy of otherwise-happy emoticons. A potential employer is unlikely to contact an applicant to see if he or she was just kidding.

3. Tell the truth

Users can detail online their employment experience and education, information that should match what one lists on a resume. Stick with the truth and avoid the need to scramble when a potential employer comes calling.

4. Upload with caution

Any photo that can be misconstrued should be left offline, even something innocent like a picture of friends having a drink on a Friday night. Consider what the employer will see first: smiling faces or a table littered with alcohol bottles? Think professionally before hitting ‘submit.’

5. Keep the professional and personal separate

In extreme cases, an applicant may choose to entirely delete a social media profile and start anew, perhaps in the case of someone who doesn’t want to edit the personality out of their profile. It can be very wise to have a ‘fun’ page and a work page. Just be sure to secure privacy settings accordingly so that potential employers don’t stumble across the wrong profile.

While some of these tips might seem simple, they bear repeating for job seekers who might want to take another look at how they’re presenting themselves online. The smallest things can pique a potential employer’s interest, just as they can eliminate an applicant’s chances at being hired. Show off those engagement rings and good times but always remember to proceed with a modicum of caution.

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2 Comments on Pre Job-Interview Social Media Hygiene

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