How your social media activity is hurting your personal brand – and what to do about it

Social Network Background With Media Icons by photoraidz.jpgSocial media used to be that thing that you snuck time into during work hours. Now social media is basically your potential employer’s “Google for job candidates”, which may very well make or break your chances of getting a job in the first place. In an age where anyone and anything can be researched online it’s important, that as a job seeker or young professional, you understand how crucially your social media activity influences your potential employer’s decision to hire you.

What is your personal brand?
All of your online activity – from Facebook and Twitter, to LinkedIn, Google+, and even your Disqus comments – embody your personal brand. While your potential employer may not discard your job application over a picture of you holding a beer while at a family braai, the sum of all of your social media activity will create a certain impression of you as an employee. Do you criticise your classmates, fellow employees, or superiors in snarky tweets? Do you complain about your boss/professor on Facebook? Do you post images to your Instagram account of how you live for weekends? This impression – your personal brand – creates an overall picture of who you are. And it’s this picture that will help the employer with his or her decision to hire you. Or not.

The social media activity that could hurt your personal brand
While almost everyone enjoys a cold beverage from time to time, it doesn’t go down all that well with your potential employer if you’re tagged in hundreds of social photographs, one weekend after the next. Limit the photos of you with drinks in your hand.

As tempting as it may be to get involved in heated polarising arguments (particularly if they involve political, religious, sexual, or crime-based topics), remember that many of the websites on which you’re posting require a simple sign-up from your Facebook profile. That means that these comments are public, can be tracked, and will come up when your name is searched on Google. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but it’s worthwhile to consider how that opinion will affect your chances of getting a job – particularly one that requires teamwork, empathy, and the ability to work in a diverse environment.

When you sign up on social media websites, the point is to be social. Simply having a profile online isn’t as effective as actually using it. Engaging on social media is the whole point. No activity on social media creates as much of a negative impression as the wrong kind of activity. Use your profiles to drive your brand – to subtly promote who you are.

How to create the right impression
Employers are looking for the candidates who stand out from the rest – considering that there are far more applications for jobs than there are vacancies. Here are a few pointers to positively promote your personal brand:

  1. Only post photographs of yourself that are professional; or smart casual at the very least. Un-tag yourself from the rest.


  1. When you voice your opinion, ensure that it is logical, not full of vitriol and negative emotion; and that it consists of impeccable spelling and grammar. Nothing creates a worse impression of a job applicant than a lack of attention to detail on something as basic as the correct use of language.


  1. The content you share on social media says a lot about the things that interest you, so make sure you are sharing articles, photos, videos, etc. that would also send the appropriate message to your potential employer. How would you know? Well, would you share that content with him or her directly?


  1. Google yourself. Do the results show that your qualification and interests align with the job you’ve applied for? Everything from your Twitter bio to the articles you share on Facebook, Google+, the photos you like on Instagram, and the pins you create on Pinterest will point towards whether you’re passionate about a particular field, or whether you’re applying for jobs in every field and hoping for the best.

Understand that when you’re job hunting, your potential employers will do a search for your name on social media. You can clean up your online act and be proactive about the impression you create, or forget about being hired any time soon.

Communicate Recruitment is a recruitment agency with specialist consultants that will assist you in finding an exciting new job, whether it’s Finance jobs, IT jobs, Engineering jobs, Freight jobs or Supply Chain jobs. If you are looking to get your personal brand out there and find your next big career opportunity, visit our vacancies pages and apply today!

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