Five Social Media Safety Tips for Job Seekers and Young Professionals


Conduct a “social media sweep” every month to make sure you're putting your best foot forward.Social media is a fantastic tool if you’re entering the job market for the first time. It provides unique opportunities for networking, which leads to interviews and other professional opportunities for countless social media users. But if not used correctly, it can also be a downfall. Many young professionals use social media simply for fun and as a means to stay connected with family and friends, but what they may not realize is that employers and prospective employers are using social media to learn more about job candidates. If you are a young professional or are trying to get your foot in the door in your particular career field, that statement should give you reason to pause.

Don’t let Facebook or Twitter keep you from landing your dream job. Here are Social Media Safety Tips to managing social media for young professionals:

1. Live a life that is “Light, Bright and Polite” so you won’t be afraid of anything you do or say being public.

Everything becomes public eventually. If you strive to live a life that is Light, Bright and Polite, you won’t ever have to worry about your privacy settings on Facebook, the thought that your boss might see what you posted won’t keep you up at night.

2. Conduct a “social media sweep” every month.

Un-tag yourself from any photos that do not portray you in a positive and professional light. Check your social media footprint on a monthly basis. Log out of your various online accounts and then search yourself to see what others see when they look for you. Even if you think your Facebook page is private, you might be surprised what someone who isn’t your friend can find out about you. For example, oftentimes, the things you “like” on Facebook are not private. The pages you like say a lot about you. Clean up your profile and remove any unprofessional posts, pictures and/or tags immediately.

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3. Make sure your profile picture is professional.

This is public regardless of your privacy settings. When someone searches you on Google, they will see your Facebook profile picture. Keep it classy, and make sure your Facebook profile picture is something that you would be proud of your boss showing in a meeting.

4. Consider your Facebook page your live resume.

Would you print out a copy of your profile and hand it to a prospective employer? Are you proud of the posts on your social media profile? Will you be proud if someone else, such as your current or prospective future employer sees it? Always remember that even if you delete things, it might not be gone forever. Google, Facebook and other companies keep a footprint of everything. Once it’s posted online, you should expect that it is out there forever, and that your employer will be able to see it somehow, even if you delete it. It’s always better to err on the side of caution than to be embarrassed about that picture you posted during a night of partying.

5. Find an honest friend or loved one who will take a look at your social media profiles and tell you what you should remove.

Find someone who cares more about you than they do hurting your feelings; someone who has your best interest in mind and will be bluntly honest with you. Ask them “Please find 3 photos that you think I should remove” and then seriously consider taking those down. Thank them for their input and then use those pictures as a framework for what not to post in the future. This may sting, but it will be a great learning lesson that helps you improve your footprint.

Social media is a valuable tool, but it should not replace face-to-face conversation. Always strive to keep your social media presence Light, Bright and Polite. If you have frustrations or concerns, don’t air it online for all to see. Instead, pick up the phone and call a BFF or friend to tell them in a phone conversation (or better yet, via coffee).

Bonus Tactical Tip: Go To Coffee Every Week.

Have coffee with a new contact at least once a week. The face to face sit-down experience won’t cost you much time or money, but it will give you a chance to make a new connection. Every time that person sees you on LinkedIn or Twitter they will be more inclined to like/RT/comment on your stuff and you will be top of mine for future opportunities.

Likewise, look for opportunities to take your networking offline. Use social media to make quick connections with other professionals, but if you limit your networking to social media alone, it will be difficult to make these meaningful relationships with new contacts.

If you would like to read more about being safe on social media, check out my book: Light, Bright and Polite.

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What tips do you have for being professional on social media? Share them in the comments below.