Get Social Media Savvy Before Applying for Civilian Jobs

You’ve probably heard the story about the job candidate who seemed like a perfect fit—until his or her prospective employer did a social media search and discovered some not-so-flattering pictures. Sure, the photos were posted years prior, but they were easily accessible and didn’t paint the candidate in a professional light.

Social media, which promises to connect us, can also send up red flags to civilian employers. It’s imperative that your social media presence be as clean and professional as you would be during a face-to-face interview. If you are a frequent poster to social media, your online profile can do the talking for you. Carefully choose the messages that you want to share.

While it’s always smart to maintain a safe online presence, it’s especially important when you’re looking for employment.

Before applying for a job, review what you have online. Is your Facebook or LinkedIn profile photo current? Do your posts tell the story of who you are and what you want people to know about you? Do you sound mature and willing to represent a company or organization? Have you listed your military service or volunteerism?

Once you’ve gotten things updated, start to scroll back into the past. Then review your postings from the perspective of an employer or recruiter. Your photo on the beach, surrounded by shells, isn’t going to hurt your image. But your photo at the beach club, surrounded by mixed drinks, could. Be smart about the images that you allow the general public to see.

Little things like spelling and grammar can also make a big difference. If you’re applying for a job in communications, the last thing you want to have on your page is a number of misspellings.

Military veterans are already known for their sense of duty and responsibility. They’re respectful individuals who know the value of hard work. Let those attributes shine through in your online presence.

Follow these tips to help you clean up your social media footprint while showcasing your best attributes to prospective employers:

• Follow a 15 minute rule when it comes to posting on social media. When you want to post, wait 15 minutes and decide if the post really has value. Does it represent you and your core values? Would someone who doesn’t know you respect you for the post? If it doesn’t paint you in a good light, don’t post it.

• Start a LinkedIn profile if you don’t have one. Be sure to include details of your military service. Your time in the military is valuable and lets people know that you are disciplined and ready to work.

• Ensure that your profile pictures are current and accurately represent you as a potential employee.

• Social media typically has areas where people can list an overview of their goals. Make it clear that you’re looking to move forward with a career that inspires you.

• Talk about your volunteerism or other ways that you help the community. Post pictures of you in action.

• Take a hard look at your past posts. If you believe that they could be seen in a negative way, eliminate them. This goes for both photos and comments.

• Consider turning off commenting on your posts. You don’t want a random “friend” making a comment that could hinder your ability to get an interview or job.

• Check spelling and grammar. Always.

• Remember that nothing you’ve posted every really goes away. You may delete posts and photos but there are ways that people can find them. The best way to be savvy online is to never post anything that can make you look bad.

Social media is here to stay, but the good news is that you’re in control. When you’re smart about what you post, you can make yourself stand out in a positive way to friends, family, and potential employers.