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If you are one of the millions of people who use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or any other site that shares information, s word of caution: be careful how giving you are with social media because social media is the gift that keeps giving, but not necessarily what you were hoping for.
While you may think that's a statement of the obvious and you know better, millions of people use the Internet every day to share personal information about their social life, comment on current events, post views and opinions, or apply for career opportunities.
All of this activity, sharing, and posting creates a digital footprint of you. And you are not necessarily in control—friends, relatives, and acquaintances are on social media as well, sharing those moment and events with characterizations and posts beyond your control. What's the result? In some cases what appears of you on these sites may not be an accurate or flattering impression of who you really are, or want to be.
1. Perform a Social Audit Regularly. Search social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to check your current social profile. The wrong posts of you could significantly cause damage to your reputation, and even cost you a career opportunity.
2. Search Yourself On the Web. Find out what the web knows or says about you. Is the information accurate and is this something you want out there for all to see? Conducting an online reputation audit is easy using sites like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Simply type in your name and see what comes up. Many people are surprised, even shocked, to learn what turns up about them after an extensive Internet search.
3. Take Control of the Posts. Go onto your profile settings on your social media profiles and change settings.
There are and will continue to be more privacy settings and controls to take advantage of and minimize the potential risks to your profile. However, keep in mind that despite all these settings and filters, once it's out on the Internet, and your name or image is associated to it, you leave yourself open for the wrong person to view it and potentially have it snowball into unexpected, negative implications.
According to a 2014 study conducted by the job site Career Builder, many employers today are relying more on social networking sites to find additional information on potential job candidates and they are not impressed with what they are finding. Career Builder reported that 51% of employers who researched a job candidate via social sites said they found content that caused them to not hire the candidate, which is up from 43% in 2013.
Here are some facts about how employers are reacting to your digital footprint:
Much like dressing appropriately for a job or an interview is important, maintaining a respectable social appearance online is equally important in today's digital age. Don't let yourself be taken by a spur-of-the-moment post, celebratory emotions, or crowd of friends. Referencing the Internet and social media sites have become part of everyday life. Wearable tech and mobile devices has just made it easier to access to do this, to the point of making something many consider norm and take it for granted. Don't fall victim yourself and take your profile for granted.
Maintaining an online reputation that is clean and healthy is increasingly important. It's important to routinely perform a digital audit of yourself on the web including your social activity. Consider performing your social audit during heightened activity such as holidays and celebrations. You can also perform one during phases where the wrong post can matter most—such as a career move you intend to take where you are applying for a job, looking to become promoted, or applying to school.
Finally, don't discount or forget other life events that require background checks and applications which may also have someone looking into your profile. For instance, home owners association sometimes have to approve residents before they can move into to a neighborhood or condominium. Remember, your digital image can be your best advocate or potential nemesis, it all depends on you. Make sure it clearly defines how you want be viewed.
Networking in the Digital Age
Making Social Media Work for You
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