During our social media training sessions with young unemployed people, it becomes startling obvious that although many of them understand how to control settings, there is still a lack of understanding of the impact what people post online can have on career prospects.
Over 70% of young people have active social media profiles which means that they are making decisions on a daily basis online that could have a huge impact on their reputation.
This article offers five tips to help maintain a healthy online profile
Treat people with respect
On the Internet, people hide behind a veil of anonymity to attack, slander and discredit people they don’t like. With social media networks and blogs, it’s easy to find a stranger to pick on. The number one rule therefore is to treat people with respect. There is a great online video called Digital Dirt Sticks in which a job applicant is humiliated by a potential employer after they rooted out comments the girl had made on Facebook about another girl. Not surprisingly she doesn’t get the job!
Don’t spread gossip.
Thanks to websites like Twitter, breaking news can reach millions of people within seconds. In some cases, this is a good thing. Social media users are among the first to learn about important events and news. When the news is false, however, the speed of social media can get people into all sorts of bother.
A good rule is to be skeptical of what you read online. Check your facts before you share information. If the information is found to be libellous it will not be a defence to claim you did not understand what you are doing – something that has been proven to be extremely costly for Sally Bercow.
Keep private information private.
Some companies focus their entire business model on scraping social networking websites for personal information and then compiling it to sell to marketers or identity thieves. That’s why private information online should stay private. Another good tip is to avoid the photos on Facebook that enourage large numbers of people to share – these are often scams with the intention of selling the information to the highest bidder.
Employers will often do it so why don’t you? Having a look at your online profile will help you understand what you look like to a potential employer. It is not all about appearance nowadays – what you look like online will be equally important.
Think about the future.
The things you share online are like digital tattoos; they’re there forever. Look at yourself from the outside and remove anything you think might paint you in an awkward light in the future. Sadly, it is hard enough for young people to find work so don’t make it harder by giving people a reason not to employ you.