If you’re like most Americans, you probably use at least one social media channel. According to Pew Research Center, 72% of Americans use social media, a steady increase since the research firm began tracking usage in 2005.
Like it or not, your social media channels have the potential to influence how hirers view you as a job candidate. A Harris Poll survey found 71% of hiring decision-makers agree social media is effective for screening applicants.
Even if you use social channels like TikTok, Facebook or Instagram just for fun, the content on your channels can reflect who you are as a person and as an employee. To protect your reputation professionally, consider your social media usage. Use these tips to influence how you interact on social media.
1. Consider Visibility
If your social media channels like Twitter or Instagram are set to public view, that means anyone, including employers, can see all your social media content. Unless you’ve done a complete audit of your social media account, it may be a good idea to set your channels to private so you can at least evaluate your post history before you set the channel visibility back to public.
There are some cases where a public profile could benefit you in a job search. For example, if you’re a popular streamer with a lot of engagement on social media, that could be something that helps you get a job.
But if you share any content that could be considered controversial, it may be best to set your channels to private so employers don’t have access to that content. Generally, content that covers themes like politics, religion or adult-rated content could be viewed negatively. If your content is full of expletives or potentially offensive words or images, that could harm your reputation, too.
Tip: When you’re applying for jobs, set your profiles to private and clean them up before you consider making them public again.
2. Assume Employers Can See Every Public Post
When you do decide to keep some social networks public, think about how you’d feel if a potential employer saw your posts. Would you be proud of the content?
Do a social media audit of any content that’s set to public. That includes:
- Content you post yourself
- Comments from other social media users
- Content you’re tagged in
That’s right — even content you don’t post yourself, but that’s associated with you, could harm your online reputation. A negative or potentially offensive comment you leave up on your social media page could have the potential to impact how you’re viewed on social media.
You may want to delete certain comments or set limits on who can comment on your posts. For example, instead of letting any public member have the ability to comment on a post, look into options that limit comments or interactions only to those you’ve connected with.
If you’re tagged in public content, assume employers can see that, too. For example, if you’re tagged in someone else’s Instagram photo doing something you wouldn’t want an employer to see, you may want to untag yourself or reach out to the person to ask them to remove the content.
Tip: Before you post public content or become a part of public content, consider whether or not you’d be happy with a potential employer seeing that content.
3. View Social Media as an Extension of Your Personal Brand
When you begin a job search, it’s safe to assume employers you’re interested in will check out your social media profiles. While it’s important to remove and restrict content that could paint your candidacy in a negative light, you can also use social media to enhance your personal brand. For example:
- On LinkedIn, join industry groups related to gaming and your profession. You can also find gaming-related communities on forum-based sites like Reddit and Discord. Participate in discussions with thoughtful contributions to build your professional network.
- When creating captions or posts for sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, lead with positivity and professionalism. Consider how a firm might view spelling and grammar mistakes and negative comments. If you’re prone to unprofessional posts, make your networks private.
- Share content that makes you excited about working in the gaming industry. This could be a blog post, new game announcement or content from your target employer. If you want to build up your authority in the gaming space, create and publicize high-value content you create on channels like Twitch and YouTube.
Bottom line: always err on the side of caution when it comes to social media content. According to Inc., 54% of employers have chosen not to hire a candidate based on social media content.
Tip: If your social media content relates to your industry and is professional, that could help you stand out positively to potential employers. If you’re more interested in sharing personal content on your networks, it may be a better idea to set your profiles to private.
Show Respect in Person & Online
During a job search, it’s helpful to think about how your social media presence could impact you as a candidate. Online interactions can influence how employers view you as an employee, so remember that anything you post publicly could impact your job search and candidacy.