Your social media profiles are used in the interview process. For that reason, I want to share with you lessons I have learned from my own social media failures.
I bit my lip so hard that it split open. I couldn't believe it.
I was looking at a picture of myself in Google Images. It was one of the top searches for "Alex Barker." Looking back, I should have suspected that I would be able to find myself on Google.
That was back in 2009. Today, it is easy to find anyone on the Internet and discover what kind of person they are.
I understood a little bit about social media and knew that it could influence my residency interviews when I interviewed in 2012. But I had no clue that my interviewer actually searched for my Facebook Twitter, and LinkedIn account.
One research article found that 89% of pharmacy residency directors agreed that information published on social media was fair game for judgment on character, attitudes, and professionalism. Of those directors, “more than half (52%) had encountered e-professionalism issues," the article states.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with those directors, your social media profiles are being used in the interview process. For that reason, I want to share with you lessons I have learned from my own social media failures.
Who you are on social media is likely a reflection of who you are in reality. And, let's face it, people don't like to follow negative people who complain about religion, government, health care, unfair professors, or the state of the economy (unless there’s some humor involved).
People like positive people. Take Oprah, Joel Olsteen, or Will Smith, for example. Each of them has millions of followers who are raving fans attracted to their personalities.
Similarly, people want to work with positive people, NOT the person who complains about every little problem. Therefore, I urge you to be a positive person on social media. The greatest benefit of being a positive person online is that you have the potential to attract employers.
Now, let's talk about how to optimize your social media profiles.
Your profile picture
In our visual society, personal image is a direct reflection of our personality and who we are. Your profile picture is likely the first thing that your potential employer will observe. So, here are a couple of things that you should avoid.
First, don't use a selfie. Selfies became a norm for profile pictures around 2010, but it is the worst picture to use because it conveys an unprofessional image. Hospitals and community pharmacists won’t post your selfie on their directory or website.
You shouldn't use a group photo that crops out the other people, either, because it just makes you appear cheap and also unfriendly.
Also, avoid grainy images. Don’t take a photo that’s small in dimensions and try to enlarge it, because you’ll create a fuzzy image.
Instead, have a professional photo taken of you. Think of it as your senior class pictures. I recommend you hire a professional, or you could ask a friend whose hobby is photography.
Keep everything updated
I was speaking with a pharmacy manager during a rotation when I realized I had made a mistake. The manager commented on how my CV was more up-to-date than my LinkedIn profile. Not only did he review my profile, but he noticed I was inconsistent with my LinkedIn account.
Although this wasn’t a fatal mistake, you should aim to impress at all stages during the interview process. Why leave an opening for yourself?
I recommend updating your social media profiles every 3 months. Set a reminder on your calendar to spend an hour or 2 updating your social media profiles (specifically, LinkedIn). That way, you won’t be frantically updating your profile a week before your interview.
"The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving." —Albert Einstein
Congratulate others for their accomplishments. Compliment friends and acquantices whenever you hear that someone has won an award, landed a new job, delivered a child, or had a birthday. If you publicly congratulate people, you will not only make a friend for life for the recognition you gave, but you will also be seen as someone who is a team player, a leader, and not a hog for the spotlight. Employers like this kind of person.
Also, post helpful resources that advance your career, such as a blog with great info. (You could start with this one!)
Some notable Twitter users who are great at this include:
Avoid controversial conversations
Stirring up heated debates on social media is a great way to look like someone who creates disunity, which is a quality employers avoid in candidates.
Sharing your opinion on controversial celebrities, government, religion, or news is a recipe for job placement suicide. Plus, you may gain a few haters on social media.
One time, I decided to butt heads in a conversation about sending notifications/invites for game apps on Facebook, which I find obnoxious. Let's just say I received a few negative comments on my profile. So, avoid joining controversial conversations that may lead to a downward spiral of negative comments.
Don't post complaints about your job or boss
This is self explanatory. If you have done this in the past, then I recommend deleting those comments. But, just remember, the internet never forgets!
Why would an employer want to hire you if you complain about your current job? If you complain about your job now, what will stop you from speaking negatively about your next job or boss?
If your social media channels are unsalvageable, and there's no way you can delete all of your colorful comments, then here are some links to learn how to make your profile private so that no one can view it: