A well-built and carefully curated social media presence is essential to land a role in today’s job market. Avoiding the risks associated with social media as it intersects with personal and professional identities can keep employees out of a predicament. Here are some recommendations to lead a constructive online presence.

A best practice is to start from the beginning, gaining access to what recruiters and hiring managers can see by conducting a google search. Unbeknownst to the individual, there may be posts or sites where they have been tagged or included without their knowledge or consent. It’s quick to repost, share or add content from many sites, and a post that was made years ago can land on a random site without notification.

It’s equally important to see what’s public and adjust security settings accordingly. This is especially important when seeking employment. Job-seekers will want to ensure that their online presence reflects what they would like portrayed as to potential employers. If there’s anything questionable, delete it, or the best option is to make personal social media pages private. This is also a great time to review connections and make adjustments as needed.

When leveraging LinkedIn for a job search, jot down these simple tips

  • Include your LinkedIn profile when applying for positions.
  • Update your profile regularly.
  • Include five to 10 years of professional experience; include all experience within that timeframe even if it’s not relevant to a current career path.
  • Connect with others in similar career fields, current co-workers, past co-workers and personal connections.
  • Use LinkedIn as an opportunity to create a personal brand; job-seekers should leverage their posts to market themselves and showcase thoughtful posts and reflections in their industry

Avoid these pitfalls

  • Don’t use company time to post content on personal social media platforms.
  • Don’t post or comment on divisive topics.
  • Don’t make inflammatory comments or engage in inflammatory conversation.
  • Don’t post videos with proprietary information in the background or divulge proprietary information.
  • Don’t post about a vacation if you’ve called out of work for the week or if you’ve taken a leave of absence.
  • Don’t disparage or shame the boss or company.

These suggestions aren’t to insinuate that an employee will get called into the human resources office, but often they can create negative feelings among your coworkers or your manager. If in doubt when it comes to who sees posts or whether the topic will create division at work, it might be worth reconsidering. Additionally, before posting online, it’s important to become familiar with the employee handbook. There is typically a specific “social medial policy” that outlines expectations and guidance around social media usage.

It’s also important to note that there are employee protections under the National Labor Relations Act.

“Employer policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected by federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees.

An employee’s comments on social media are generally not protected if they are mere gripes not made concerning group activity among employees.”

(The NLRB and Social Media | National Labor Relations Board, n.d.)

Essentially, what this indicates is amongst your co-workers, you can vent and discuss topics around pay and working conditions. Often employees are told not to discuss pay or other workplace topics; the NLRA considers these topics protected. This does not protect against posting topics that are defamatory towards an organization, boss or co-worker. This is a fine line and in general, it is prudent to be mindful of who has access to social media pages and topics that are being discussed. This is especially prudent advice when “on the clock” making or commenting on posts.

Posting on social media can uplift and elevate career potential. Recruiters highly recommend and utilize these platforms to find their future employees. Leveraging career sites such as LinkedIn can not only give a pathway to connect with recruiters, it’s a great site to network and collaborate with others in certain industries. Giving all social media platforms a review as well as double-checking the security settings can help a candidate avoid negative perceptions. There are many recommendations when it comes to social media. Some activities are protected, and some are best practices, but in general, be mindful and use sound judgment to avoid negative repercussions. Knowing employee rights and protections is helpful and gives context into what’s allowed and what can end with negative consequences in the workplace.

Leverage this guidance to help leverage social media for positive career outcomes while understanding how to safeguard personal thoughts and opinions.

Reference: The NLRB and Social Media | National Labor Relations Board. (n.d.). https://www.nlrb.gov/about-nlrb/rights-we-protect/your-rights/the-nlrb-and-social-media