Everyone has heard a social media horror story.
Whether it’s Rupert Murdoch tweeting his wish for a “real black president”, or the American woman who publicly weighed up a “fatty pay cheque” against “hating the work” when offered a job, it’s clear things can quickly go wrong.
Senior Regional Director at Hays Recruitment Simon Bristow said a growing number of hiring managers are checking out potential candidates online.
“We advise candidates to assume that all publicly available online content could be used as part of the decision-making process,” he said.
According to Mr Bristow, candidates needed to be wary of revealing “information that could make an interviewer see [them] in a different light”.
But when used properly, social media can accelerate and widen a job search.
LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter are some of the platforms helping to connect people and broadcast their skills.
Below are some of the dos and don’ts of social media for professionals.
Don’t: post tasteless comments
This one might seem obvious, but that hasn’t stopped countless people missing out on jobs, or worse, being fired.
“A growing number of hiring managers believe that such content can give a good insight into a candidate’s character and likely cultural fit with the organisation,” Mr Bristow said.
Posts made online are permanent, and even if you do regret something and quickly delete, there’s a chance someone has already taken a screenshot of your misdemeanour.
Be wary that not only your personal comments, but the groups you join and offensive content you “like” or “share” can also affect your image.
Don’t: forget what people can see
Thinking about chucking a sickie anytime soon?
Be aware there are now many more ways an employer or colleagues can track your movements.
Photos, “check-ins” and messages can all be geo-tagged, and may give the game away if you’re not where you say you are.
Even if your accounts are on private, hashtagging posts could hurt you if your employer searches “#boredatwork” or “#hatemyjob”.
Do: make the most of professional platforms
A 2014 Jobvite study found 94 per cent of all recruiters are active on professional networking site LinkedIn, and in July this year, LinkedIn had 380 million active users.
The platform allows users to connect with colleagues, identify people through several degrees of separation and apply for jobs.
“Consider joining online groups relevant to your industry or profession or even follow industry leaders on Twitter,” Mr Bristow said.
Do: search yourself
If you expect a hiring manager may look at you online – you need to do your own reconnaissance first.
To view your online presence as a stranger would, turn on “incognito mode” on your browser and look at your accounts.
This will verify the effectiveness of your privacy settings and tinker them as needed.
“But don’t just restrict your focus to pure social sites like Facebook or Twitter,” Mr Bristow said.
“Google your name to make sure all online content is appropriate.”