Everything you put online is visible to everyone, including hiring managers. What you make public online can either help you or hinder you from getting your dream job. There are a few things you can do to make sure your social media accounts will work in your favor.
Image from Houston Defender
In communications courses, you often hear that you need to brand yourself, but what does that even mean? Branding is basically how you represent yourself online and how your personality comes across. To effectively create your own brand, you should be yourself and also try to stand out from the crowd. To do this, have fun with how you customize your accounts, but make sure you aren't coming off as unprofessional. A good way to do this is having matching colors across your platforms and talking about things that you're passionate about.
Don't Be Offensive
Avoiding being offensive isn't very hard. All you have to do is think about what other people might think of you when they see that picture or post you're thinking about putting online. Additionally, think about all of those lectures you got in middle and high school about what not to post. For example, don't make posts about drinking if you're underage. If you're over 21, a classy picture of you with a glass of wine is okay, but pictures of you binge drinking at a party are best kept to yourself.
Part of this is also avoiding offensive language. Keep swearing to an absolute minimum or avoid it completely. A person who drops f-bombs in every Tweet doesn't come across as professional. Also, not going on political rants is for the best. If you do want to post about politics, make sure you're being respectful and eloquent and be aware that even the most well thought-out and best intentioned political posts could hurt you in the future.
Keep Some Details Private
Hiring managers can hold a bias against you for pretty much anything, even if they don't realize it. Having things like your political party, religion or even favorite sports team public could make someone choose another applicant over you. Avoid filling out the sections like this in your Facebook profile and posting anything related to affiliations on your public accounts.
Discrimination based on things you can't control, like race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability and more, is illegal, but unfortunately, it is something you may face in the future. Hiring managers could base not choosing you for a position on things like this from what they see on social media. They could also figure out some of these in person, so don't avoid posting pictures of yourself and loved ones out of fear of discrimination. You'll probably never know if discrimination is why you weren't hired or if the decision was based on merits alone. If you weren't hired for who you are, that company is not one you'd want to be working for regardless.