As much as people may try, it is difficult to separate professional and personal lives when it comes to social media. A recent study found that 45 percent of human resources professionals use social media to vet potential employees, and another 11 percent say they have plans to start the practice this year. With 58 percent of Americans owning smartphones and looking up information on the go, potential employers or clients do not have to look far to find out more than the jobs on your resume or the professional picture that LinkedIn lists about you.
This doesn’t mean that you need to hide your personality completely when it comes to online portals – it just means that you need to add a layer of filtration before you post and keep an eye on your privacy settings too. Take a look at three types of social media content you should think twice before posting:
Risky behavior. Depending on your line of work, you may feel comfortable posting a photo of yourself drinking a beer at a restaurant with friends, or smoking a cigarette at a late-night concert or festival. In other cases, it may be best to just leave these adult-themed occasions completely off your feed, particularly if you work directly with children or people who may be sensitive to these topics. Set up your privacy filters so you must approve all photos and posts where others tag you to be sure you have complete control over what is posted on your behalf.
Anything politically charged. This is a judgment call based on your line of work but in general, expressing too polarizing of a view on issues will alienate someone at some point. Along these lines, it is probably best to avoid getting into political arguments on the pages of others too, especially since you have even less control over who will see your comments.
Health issues. Some people find a lot of support and solace on social media when it comes to discussing their challenges, health issues included, but you want to be sure that nothing you post will translate into loss of work, or clientele, down the road. Employers cannot discriminate based on health issues and cannot ask you about them in interviews. However, if you put the information out there for the public eye to see, you may have a tough time proving that actual health-related discrimination occurred. This is another area where you just want to carefully check your privacy settings as they relate to what you post and who can see that content.
Social media can prove an effective tool in building up your professional credibility – but it can also tear it down without the right monitoring. Be smart when you post on social media and protect your personal brand in the process.
Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.