Social media is inescapable and it’s hard to not participate in some form of it, as we are tied to technology from personal shopping trips to how we conduct business meetings. However, when you’re a candidate or an employee your personal brand is as important as your public brand. If both are not considered, this may be a good time to investigate how you appear online. The easiest way to avoid all this is to remove yourself from all social media, but we know that is unrealistic, so let’s talk about ways to make sure you are aware of your online presence.

Understanding privacy controls beyond the basics

A lot of privacy controls focus on your footprint, meaning what you allow the world to see; however, they do not roll over to those who you are friends with. There are actions you can take to limit your exposure. For example, on Facebook, approving any photo with you or any ‘tag’ of your online presence to ensure that the content you are curating is appropriate for the personal and public sphere.

Realizing ‘friend-colleagues’ are still colleagues

Just because you get along with someone you work with, and spend time with outside of work, doesn’t mean things you share in person or online can’t be misconstrued by someone you work with, especially if this is shared with a wider audience. It’s my recommendation you don’t share negative experiences about your employment in any social media sphere as this can have an impact for years down the line if connected back to you.

Take time to research yourself

Using your preferred search engine, type in your full name and see what comes up on the first few pages. If you can find your information or opinions, anyone else can as well. A lot of sites we sign up for index our information. Personally, a few years ago I found a wedding forum I belong to had indexed all my comments, gratefully nothing inflammatory showed, but the idea that something I thought was private was available by just typing in my name was enough for me to take the necessary steps to remove myself from that site and be much more aware of my activity online.

If you hesitate, don’t do it

It’s an old rule of life, but a pretty tried and true one, if you hesitate don’t do it. This can be from writing something about work, posting a photo, retweeting a nasty comment, writing inflammatory things about a brand or an experience. Being cognizant of what you do will help you ensure that you are aware that not only your employer and colleagues, but potential clients/customers also aren’t privy to things that you deem personal.

I want to reiterate that the above is a recommendation or best practice I try to follow, not things you have to do, but being aware of your social footprint can help you avoid some potentially awkward or career debilitating moments. I don’t think any of us wants to not get a promotion or a job because we decided using social media to complain about a colleague was a good idea at the time. Not to mention, remembering to practice common courtesy and professionalism in the public sphere only makes you stand out in a good way to others; current and potential employers, customers and clients.

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