Assuming you care about your personal branding efforts, you should know that everything you do online is subject to scrutiny.
Today, recruiters look at every candidate’s social media presence when making decisions about who should advance and who should not. In part, they’re looking to see how creative and impressive candidates are on social media — but they’re also looking for bad behaviors that disqualify job seekers from the running.
Take time now to see if any of the following major gaffes appear on your social profiles — and correct any that you find:
1. Broken Links
I’ve connected with a lot of people on Twitter whose website links in their bios don’t work. Also included in this category are links that have nothing to do with you and your professional work. Check the links on your social profiles a few times a year to ensure you’re sending people where you want them to go.
2. Using Trending Terms You Don’t Understand
Nothing like using slang when you haven’t an idea what it means. Throwing “shade” doesn’t mean throwing a lamp, nor does “Black Lives Matter” mean all other lives don’t matter.
You might think this is trivial, but if your resume advertises anything close to “detail-oriented,” then an employer will take exception to your misuse of language. And if an employer doesn’t catch it, people in your network might. You would like their job referrals, wouldn’t you?
3. Liking and Sharing Outdated or Erroneous Information
You probably know the type: The person who doesn’t seem to think at all before sharing content. You look much more credible to employers when your timeline only includes accurate, interesting, and up-to-date content.
4. No Original Thoughts of Your Own
God bless those of you who constantly share inspirational quotes, beautiful pictures, and “Caturday” memes from others. The problem, however, is none of this content demonstrates your value as a professional. People in your network want to know you and what you do — not what you share.
5. Political, Religious, and Sexual Content
The safest possible course is just to avoid it all. Even your most positively intended posts can be offensive to others who don’t share your values.
6. Poor Quality Photos
Most smartphone cameras these days can take quality pictures to post on social media. Low-quality images make you look outdated, out of touch, and unaware of how new technology works.
Oh, you’re a proven leader with 20+ years of experience? How does that stand out from anyone else? People should know your unique value by glancing at just the first 120 characters of your bio.
8. Bad Grammar and Old Text Abbreviations
I recently saw someone post on a Facebook thread, “We R W U!” Meaning, “We are with you!” Employers don’t look kindly on this. It makes you seem like a bad, sloppy communicator.
Context is everything, but social media makes it very easy to take things out of context. It is essential to promote yourself online, but you need to be careful not to come across as if you are boastful. There are ways to promote yourself without annoying others. If you’re unsure, ask trusted friends and colleagues for feedback on your messaging and make adjustments as needed.
Remember, simply scrubbing your profile of gaffes is not enough. Presenting your best self online means showcasing the creative, value-driving side of yourself. That is what impresses employers. Invest time and effort in making sure this is the aspect of you that shines most brightly on social media — and avoid the reputation-marring mistakes outlined above.
Mark Anthony Dyson is a career consultant, the host and producer of “The Voice of Job Seekers” podcast, and the founder of the blog by the same name.