A robust online presence is great for your personal brand and executive job search, but people make social media mistakes.
When you’re in job search mode, it’s time to put on a good face (online and in-person). The first and each subsequent impression of you needs to be a positive one.
Hiring managers and others at your target companies will check you out online, and they’ll see what you’ve put out there and judge you by it.
Anything online associated with your name that reflects badly on your character will negatively impact your personal brand, and can cause them to skip right over you and move on to the next candidate.
3 Self-Sabotaging Social Media Mistakes
Of the many missteps I see executives make with personal branding, their social media activity and online presence, these are the 3 most damaging ones.
1. Social Media Snark and Negativity
To me, this is one of the most egregious social media mistakes. With the loss of civility these days, compounded by a president tweeting negativity, is it any wonder that nastiness and snark on social media are rampant these days? It certainly feels like it’s escalated, right?
Some may feel that mores have loosened, and it’s open season to carelessly and relentlessly vent with inflammatory remarks about any and everyone.
What was considered risky a few years ago has become commonplace.
We constantly see put-downs of people in the news, past and current employers, and even family and acquaintances.
Yes, some snark masters are witty, gifted writers with the savvy to pull it off, without offending. In fact, they neatly win people over.
Amy Brown, former Social Media Manager for Wendy’s, made a splash early in 2017 with her Twitter dialog with a disgruntled customer. Take a minute to read the exchange. Very funny!
Nevertheless, I advise that when you’re actively job-hunting, tread carefully with what you post anywhere online.
You may have been active in the past on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. with personal rants and raves but now, here you are, diving into a job search.
Your social media mistakes can hit you hard once you’re job hunting.
Make no mistake. Your tweets, and anything you post online, will be found and considered by people assessing you as a job candidate.
Witty and clever tweets are great. Opinions that attempt to take someone down are not good.
And, once it’s out there, you may not be able to take it back.
I’ve been on the receiving end of snark – on my own blogs and others, and on Twitter – and I’ve seen unwarranted attacks on others, as we all have. I wrote about it in my post, Personal Brand Buzzkill: Snarky Comments on LinkedIn Pulse.
I remember several years ago a well-known figure in my field, the careers industry, mocked my @Twittername – my actual name, @MegGuiseppi – arguing that it was unpronounceable.
How could a tweet like that be of any value to anyone?
For tips on tweeting well, check out my 2-part series of posts, How to Use Twitter for Personal Branding and Executive Job Search.
2. The Thorny Subjects – Politics, Religion and Sex
Beyond snark, there are the thorny subjects. Your opinions about them are better left off your social media communications.
As noted in Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms (1879) – a sentiment still valid and highly relevant today:
“Do not discuss politics or religion in general company. You probably would not convert your opponent, and he will not convert you. To discuss those topics is to arouse feeling without any good result.”
Although you build your personal brand around what differentiates you and makes you uniquely valuable, I think it’s best to avoid controversy by throwing these subjects into the mix.
Sure, you may be a deeply religious person who wants to spread good things about your faith. Or you may be politically-driven and proud of it. Unless you’re seeking jobs in these fields, do you think it’s wise to risk offending or turning people off by sounding off?
Give it a go, if you’re brave enough to take the potential backlash . . . and possibly a prolonged job search.
And, of course, pontificating and voicing controversial opinions on social media can pose a serious threat to your current job. Your employer and co-workers may be offended and turn against you. It could make for a very uncomfortable work environment.
More on the right way to use social media in my post, Executive Brand Online Reputation Management: How to Build Your Brand Online.
3. Sensitive Personal Information
I’ve found over and over again in conversations with executive job seekers – and others who should know better – that they mindlessly provide sensitive personal information on their social networks, without hesitation.
For instance, when you sign up for some social media accounts, you’re asked for your date of birth.
Without a second thought, many of us go ahead and fill in the information.
Did you know that, with your birth date, predators and no-goodniks can easily piece together enough about you with what’s already online to steal your identity?
There’s way too much info about each of us easily available online. Don’t compound that by providing the final pieces.
Along with date of birth, don’t post any of this information anywhere online, except when you really have to, and only on secure sites:
- Social security number
- Driver’s license number
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card information
- PayPal account number
- Mother’s maiden name
- Spouse’s name
- Home address
- Town where you were born
In most cases, you should not provide any of this information to employers until you have formally accepted a job offer.
More about safeguarding your online identity in my post, The Online Safety and Privacy Dilemma in Executive Job Search.