Limited Disclosure: Why oversharing online can hurt your career

Are you a fan of social media? Most of us are these days and for good reason. It’s an easy way to stay in touch with our loved ones, catch up with the news and share the funny and inspiring things that we find online.

But there’s a darker side to social media that can cast a deep shadow on your ambitions and goals. If you weren’t already aware, your friends aren’t the only ones looking at your profile. Prospective employers, interviewers, and recruiters are all looking, too!

If you make the mistake of sharing too much personal information on your public-facing social media profile, you could end up putting a damper on your job prospects. All it takes is one irreverent tweet or photo to cost you a life-changing opportunity, and nobody wants that.

What to share and what not to share

Here’s a rule of thumb for the internet: Always assume that everything you share online, no matter how small, is utterly and totally public. Whether it’s a photo, a meme, a joke, a song, an app, or even an opinion, anyone can see it if it’s posted online.

How is this possible? Well, the reason comes down to the fact that your data is big business to social media platforms. There’s a reason these sites are free to use: You’re the product being bought and sold.

Your post history, your likes, and your engagement with content are all recorded and sold between platforms and advertisers so content can be targeted to you and tailored to your interests. This results in ads and information you’re more likely to interact with.

But there’s a downside to this targeted data business: Your privacy is lost in the process. This means your information and history can show up in places you might not expect like search engines and public profiles — all things that recruiters and background checkers look at.

To stay safe, it’s important to weigh whether or not the content you share is something you’d feel comfortable with a future employer seeing.

After all, a picture of you and your family probably won’t be an issue, but a photo of your massive action figure collection might give the impression that you’re not as serious of a person as an employer might be looking for.

Foot-in-mouth syndrome

Everyone has said things they regret online, but only very rarely do they take the time to delete their comments. For better or worse, you’re much safer leaving heated debates alone and not bothering to comment.

Nasty comments on social media and hostile online behavior (even in jest) can leave a sour taste in many recruiter's mouths. They’re looking for team players who will gel with their other workers, and no company wants to hire someone who they think won’t “play nice” with others.

To prevent yourself from “putting your foot in your mouth” and saying something you regret, you’re better off making your social media accounts private so only close friends can look at your content. If you still want employers to see you online, treat yourself as if you were a brand.

If you want the best of both worlds, however, consider making anonymous accounts with no ties to your true identity and use them for discussion and content consumption online. If it can’t be traced back to your professional image, it can’t sabotage you.

It might seem unfair, but recruiters, by their nature, are supposed to probe deeply into your background. And despite how skilled Pursuely’s agents are at backing your credibility up, they can’t save you from your own social media mistakes.

Tread wisely, and you’ll find that getting job leads and interviews are much easier than you expect.

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