Hands holding a cup of coffee and a mobile phone on Facebook, sitting in front of a laptop

When you are looking for a job, you make sure everything is perfect to impress future employers. For example, your resume is perfect, your references are on speed dial and you’ve even picked the outfit. Unfortunately, what you may not realize is that the personal things you enjoy doing may have unintended consequences. One Facebook post, a single tweet or a tagged picture may be enough to keep you unemployed.  Essentially, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn give the public a glimpse into your personality. It is highly important to regulate what is being posted, and to consider social media as a tool for positive branding if done correctly.

To no surprise, potential employers are reviewing candidate’s social media profiles, and will use any negative posts or pictures as an easy way to remove you from their large pile of applications. What was once considered a personal post is now part of the hiring process.

Here are some examples of how a social media profile can harm your job prospects:

  1. The friends you have on your social media sites

    Maybe you have a friend who is a great person, but is often posting wild or inappropriate content. While prospective employers aren’t going to base their hiring procedures on your friends, a tagged picture where you and your friend are doing something inappropriate could. Make sure you set boundaries about what pictures of you can be tagged through your privacy settings. And if necessary, ditch your friends—online—who can potentially ruin your chances at a job

  2. You post too much information about yourself

    There are three letters that have a big meaning. T.M.I. – Meaning, if you’re posting too much information on your social media profile, you could post yourself out of a job. What’s worse is posting too much information about your job search. Compare your social media profile to dating. Potential suitors don’t want to know you’re dating around, or spamming your resume out to everyone who will take you. It is the same way with potential employers. When they check your social media profile, they don’t necessarily want to view your job search updates.

  3. Posting pictures and words that are inappropriate

    So what’s considered inappropriate? There are the usual no-no’s like racist and sexist comments, as well as:

    • Pictures, drawings and references to weapons or drugs.
    • Evidence of participating in illegal activities.
    • Complaints about your present or former co-workers, bosses or employers.
    • Photos of you in compromising positions or partying.
    • Pictures of you consuming drugs or alcohol.

Political and religious posts are also a grey area. While not necessarily inappropriate, you open yourself up to another form of discrimination that makes employers uncomfortable.

You may have heard the horror stories about people not getting hired because of their social media profile. Don’t let that happen to you. Pictures or words you put on your social media profile may prevent you from landing a job or launching a career.

There are no Canadian laws that prevent potential employers from viewing anyone’s social media profile. Also, there are no laws that prevent them from making hiring assumptions based on your social media profile. What potential employers know about you should be confined to your cover letter, resume and interview.

Your social media profiles should be developed in such a way that they can help your resume, not hurt it!