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How to Ensure Your Career Isn’t Damaged by Social Media

You could be on the hunt for a new job. You could be excelling in your current workplace. You could use a sick day and be told to clear your desk after your manager sees photos of your big bender the night before.

In a world full of easily accessible information, it’s vital to ensure your use of social media creates a positive image not just to your friends, but also to current and potential employers.


Facebook is a great place to start, since it’s often the first place employers will go to gain a sneaky insight into the kind of person you are. It’s today’s equivalent of including a photo on your resume, just with the potential to include more candid information for them to scrutinise.

One simple step you can take is to change your name on Facebook to a nickname, or even just replace your first or last name with a middle name, in order to make it harder for people to search for you. This doesn’t prevent employers searching you by email, but it’s an extra layer of defence.

A more effective tactic is to take a look at your privacy settings. When viewing Facebook on a web browser, you should see a small lock icon in the top right corner: click it and hit the button that says ‘Who can see my stuff?’. From there, click ‘view as’ and you’ll be able to see what your profile looks like to someone else. If there’s anything you don’t want to be seen, change your settings to hide it!

It’s important to remember that your cover photo and profile picture are always visible to the public regardless of your settings, so you should make sure those things show positive character. If your boss wants to add you, list them as an ‘acquaintance’ or on ‘restricted’ mode to adjust what they can and can’t see.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid landing in hot water is to hold back from posting anything that could be seen in a negative light. One way to look at it: if you wouldn’t want your grandma seeing it, don’t post it.


Twitter is a popular platform for people to engage in discussion over daily life, breaking news and basically anything at all. Try to keep your Twitter usage updated but light: no one wants to hire an employee who antagonised a Twitter feud with a Beyoncé fan over the identity of “Becky with the good hair”. If you want to be proactive, use Twitter to show that you are interested in current affairs or post some amusing tweets that back up your resume.


Don’t want employers perusing your Instagram page? Account settings can be placed on private to ensure no current or future employers can see what you post without your approval. Alternatively, make yourself harder to find by not including your full name on your account or in posts.


Snapchat has stormed onto a social media scene and is one of the fastest growing social media tools of today. The company is currently opening an office in Australia and have a team continually changing and updating the filters they use. Snapchat usually flies under the radar when it comes to your career, but it can have a huge impact. If your boss or a fellow employee adds you, be careful about the content you share as part of your Snapchat story. Called in sick to work? Your boss may not believe you if your story is full of tequila shots and cocktails from the night before. Unfortunately, the truth of social media is that you never know who is watching.

General things to avoid:

  • Grievances about current or past employers: this should go beyond your use of social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or even your personal blogs, believe us when we say these things will come back to bite you. You are much better off limiting these conversations to close friends, if you need to have them at all.
  • Illegal activity: even if you just had a bit of weed the one time you visited Amsterdam, it’s not a good look in the eyes of an employer viewing your social media content as an outsider.
  • Never-ending selfies: there’s nothing wrong with loving yourself and feeling confident in the way you look, but some employers may get the vibe that you’re shallow or self-absorbed if every picture of you is a selfie. Try to mix things up a little bit with some group shots!
  • Drinking: no one can blame you for enjoying a drink every now and then, but you’re better off avoiding any text posts or photos that show it in excess. Casually holding a drink? That’s fine. Drinking two at once? Leave it off social media.
  • Political views: we all have them, but it’s common courtesy to withhold them before you shake hands. Unless you’re going for a job where these things are celebrated or you feel that you need to turn down an offer that compromises your ethics, try to leave your controversial views off social media if you can help it.

What you can promote:

  • Achievements: help out twice a week at a soup kitchen in the city? You don’t have to gloat, but why not post a picture of you in action. Made a speech at your best friend’s wedding? A picture or video of the occasion can say much more than a block of text on your resume.
  • Animals: a bit subtler, but showing off your pets or interaction with animals can give the impression that you are likeable and trustworthy. Children can have a similar effect, but there may be a problem in distinguishing whether it really is your child or just a friend’s.
  • Hobbies and activities: nothing says you’re a fun, enthusiastic and likeable person more than photos of you doing interesting and exciting things. Perhaps you hiked up a mountain over the weekend (you don’t have to mention it took twice as long as it should have and you nearly passed out from fatigue). Maybe you went for a barbeque with friends and played a casual game of football. All these things show that you are someone who likes to be active and involved, which are great traits for an employer to see.
  • Being happy: you might do this anyway, but make sure you have good photos of you smiling, looking confident and having a great time. It might show you in a negative light if you are always frowning or looking away.

While we could just tell you to always be on nothing but your best behaviour, it’s normal to have likes and dislikes, make mistakes, and lead a life outside of work. Your best bet is to simply think twice about what you post, paint the best picture of yourself on social media and try to demonstrate that you are a hireable person.


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