Photo by mags3737, Flickr Creative Commons

I’m the first person to evangelize for social media. I’m on Facebook and Twitter all day for work and personal reasons, my daughter uses it to get information about and help with her homework, we all find links to interesting stuff every day, right? I don’t want to miss a single photo of my cousin’s twins!

We’ve talked on our blog about how important it is to be careful on LinkedIn, but it’s easy to remember there, since it is a social network for professional development and networking. With careful thought, the other social media platforms can be just as useful to a potential employer when they are deciding whom to interview.

When I have an interview, I search for the person I will meet everywhere—be sure they are doing the same. What are they finding about you?

Photos

Although you think you have tweaked your privacy settings so that you are safe, it is still never a good idea to post photographs of yourself in questionable situations which employers might be uncomfortable with. Facebook owns the rights to any photo you post and they change their privacy rules all the time, often without notice. You don’t want the wrong person searching for you at the wrong moment, so don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.

Language
Free speech is great and blogs and social media platforms are places for us to express ourselves. However, using coarse language makes more of a statement than you might mean. There are also some taboo subjects you might want to avoid except with your personal friends: politics, race, and religion are only a few. These subjects are best kept to a very small circle.

Venting
As unappreciated as you felt at your previous employer, keep it to yourself online. A typical interview question like “How was your relationship with your last manager?” is a good guideline. Anything past generally positive, unless it was better than that, is something you should take a pass on.

Dishonesty

Make sure everything that refers to your employment history anywhere is strictly true. If a potential employer finds different information on different sites, they will wonder if you are being truthful anywhere.

Confidentiality
It is best to limit how you talk about previous employers to elements which specifically apply to your role there and your relationship with the company. Anything about the company itself, its plans or projects, is theirs to discuss, not yours.

It would be nice to think we could say whatever we like with no consequences on social media, but of course, it is no different from real life.

Think before you post!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative