Love it or loathe it, social media usage has rocketed in the last decade and with it, privacy has flown out of the window like a (Twitter) bird.
Many spill their guts on a number of social media websites, the most popular being Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – and the favourite of the working professional, LinkedIn.
However, the comments, photographs and statements you make about yourself online, or others post about you, can portray you in a certain light which may not be what a potential employer is looking for.
In short, it could deter them altogether.
Bad light: Your social media accounts are likely to be checked by future employers and questionable posts or photographs could cost you a potential job
Drunk photographs of yourself from your university days, strong views about controversial subjects and even the blurb in your profile could be analysed.
This means that if you are on the job hunt, perhaps to move role or fresh out of school or university, what your social media says is being increasingly used by potential employers to weed out those they don’t like the look or sound of before the interview stage.
So what should you do? The latest in the This is Money interview cheat sheet series questions whether you should delete all of your accounts, make them private or just leave them open.
SET THEM TO PRIVATE
According to a recent survey, seven in 10 potential employers use social media to nose on candidates before interviewing and hiring.
Despite this, only a third of candidates believe it will be checked.
Pam believes that setting accounts to private is the best course of action.
She says: ‘Due to the proliferation of social media, employers are quite likely to conduct a quick search of your social media profiles before or after the initial interview.
‘There’s no need to delete your social media profiles, but you should make them as private as possible and follow the advice that you shouldn’t be posting anything that you wouldn’t want current or prospective employers to see.’
Private: If in doubt, it is worth setting your social media profiles onto private while on a job search – unless they show you in a completely positive light
SOCIAL MEDIA SHOULD BE SEEN AS A POSITIVE
Pam adds that social media should be seen as a positive – especially the favourite for professionals, LinkedIn.
She said: ‘Social media should be seen as a positive asset for job seekers if used correctly.
‘LinkedIn is a great way to showcase passion for your industry by joining relevant groups, posting frequently and updating your profile regularly.
‘For LinkedIn in particular make sure that your CV matches up to what your profile says in terms of employment dates and experience.
‘Even if the discrepancy is a genuine mistake rather that covering it up, it could indicate poor attention to detail.’
CAN HIGHLIGHT DROP IN PRODUCTIVITY
Furthermore, a sudden increase of activity on social media during working hours could be a sign that you have clocked off from your current role, Pam warns.
She adds: ‘Hiring managers will know if you are currently employed or not – so any social content you create or post during office hours should be work related otherwise you risk looking like your productivity has dropped and you’ve lost your focus.’
DO YOU NEED A ‘SOCIAL SCRUB’?
James says that your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts are all scrutinised by prospective employers the second you send in your CV.
He adds: ‘Have you given much thought to how much of your past can be revealed using a quick Google search?
‘What does your social media profile say about you?
‘Your e-mail address and name will be pasted into search engines and everything you have ever put on the internet will be right in front of them.
‘It would be a shame if you lost the job because of that drunk photo you took during your holidays.
‘Or that controversial post you made on a forum five years ago.’
It has become such a key area of the interview and job hunt process that experts at his firm offer a social scrub service.
This gives a report on your social profiles and search engine results, and how to increase the privacy of this content and polish everything else in order to impress.
If you don’t wish to set your social media settings to private, it is worth conducting your own clean-up before an interview.
Much of your social media content might show you in a positive light with interesting opinions and thoughtful content – but it is worth going through with a fine-tooth comb to find questionable posts and photographs.
Delete them or un-tag yourself, no matter how old they may be.
Make sure your profile photo is professional and any posts moaning about your current or past jobs are binned.