Social Media Trends: Employers and Your Online Image

Laura GladingThis article was contributed by Laura Glading, Charlotte Campus Director of Academic Affairs

We often think that the only people who have “images” that need to be managed are movie stars, politicians, and sports heroes. However, in today’s environment, your image is more available than ever to anyone with a computer, smart phone or tablet. Therefore, it is up to you to manage your image with the same zeal as Beyoncé.

First, why does it matter? The biggest reason is employability. More and more employers are using social media to evaluate or eliminate candidates. Employers scan Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other resources to help them determine what type of candidate you are. And, it doesn’t stop once you are employed. There have been many cases of employees being fired for posting inappropriately on social media.

The first step to managing your image is ensuring there are no major “red flags” for employers. Postings or pictures about your use of alcohol, weapons, pictures or postings of a sexual or provocative nature, and postings that could be considered discriminatory or harassing should be the first things to delete. Run a Google search of your name, and see what comes up. If the first things that come up are unflattering, eliminate them.

The second step is to eliminate anyone from your feeds that would reflect badly upon you. This can be difficult, but connecting with people who share inappropriate content can be just as damaging as you posting it. Employers will judge the people you surround yourself with as an indication of who you are.

The third step is managing your image. Remember, just because you deleted it, doesn’t mean it is gone. Therefore, you need to create distance from those less flattering images and postings. To do so, be sure you are very conservative with your postings to social media from this point forward. And lastly, live the image you want others to have of you. Privacy is a rare thing in today’s world, and anywhere there are other people, there are cameras, bloggers, and posters. You can only control your image if you become your image.