Just a few years ago, Facebook was still the domain of teenagers and 20-somethings, and prowess with a beer funnel might have been something you wanted to show off on the social network. These days, there’s a good chance that your mother is on Facebook. Your teachers probably are too, and you can bet your prospective employer will be checking out your page.
We’ve learned to limit our opinions on controversial topics (not everyone, of course) and our friends are now (hopefully) smart enough not to post all those crazy pictures from Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street where all your future girlfriends will see what a meathead you are.
Whether you do have skeletons in the closet to keep off of Facebook or you’ve lived your life like an angel, taking the ‘untag’ approach to social media can severely limit the platform’s potential to help you. Instead of taking a reactionary approach to maintaining your page, think about the proactive steps you could be taking to promote all the positive interests and experiences you’ve had that make you more attractive to potential employers.
Most companies want healthy, happy employees (especially if you find an employer who still provides health insurance). Do you regularly practice yoga? Post a picture of yourself in a favorite pose. Do you home-cook meals each night? Snap a picture! Believe it or not, taking the time to cook healthy food for yourself can show an employer that you’re responsible and take care of your body. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good TV dinner now and then!
Do you work on classic cars in your spare time? Maybe you collect model trains or build wooden furniture. While you don’t want your hobbies to be the only thing on your page (‘obsessed’ does not look good to employers), it’s wise to show that you’re well-rounded and have interests you actively pursue.
Putting family on social media is kind of a no-brainer and typically happens naturally, but it’s worth noting in case you’re not married and don’t have children. Don’t be embarrassed to post a happy picture of you with your parents or a favorite cousin. Make sure to label it as such so that potential employers can see that maintaining strong relationships is important to you.
For some reason, we’re never as quick to pull out the camera when we’re working in the community garden or walking a beach clean-up as we are when we’re out partying at night. Whenever you’re doing something as a proactive citizen, be sure to snap a few pictures (and have someone take one of you). These are premium fodder for building your social media resume. If you haven’t volunteered in awhile, pick up a shift at a soup kitchen or animal shelter. Chances are, you’ll discover benefits that go far beyond the picture you get to post to Instagram.
Even if your office isn’t pet-friendly, most people love animals. Pictures of yourself and your dog or cat can demonstrate compassion and an amiable personality. Give your pal a chance to shine on the internet!
Posting trip pictures is another obvious step, but it’s important nonetheless. Travel experiences are a great breaking-the-ice conversation starter for job interviews. Document your trips in a clean well-labeled format (you could even consider a YouTube slideshow), and you may find that you and a future employer already have common ground through that favorite bistro you discovered in Montreal.
Social media pages that are improperly maintained can severely damage a job prospect’s chances of getting hired. At the same time, the opportunity is there to give them a huge boost. Deleting your profile altogether could truly backfire. Just keep your posts clean, and make a point to document the most commendable aspects of your life.
What other ideas do you have for improving your social media resume?
About the Author: Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam Printing, a leading provider of custom pens and other promotional items such as custom USB drives, Christopher is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses. He regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.