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June 6, 2016

Are your social media profiles harming your career?

social media

Second year trainee Jayne Moyle looks at the impact social media can have on your career.

The social media bubble is still growing but how often do we think about our social media profiles and the image that they project of us? This seems to be becoming more and more an issue (even more so for those looking for a training contract) and yet people still seem to fall into the usual pitfalls.

I have attended a number of seminar events on social media, most recently given by Jamie Anderson from Trinity Chambers, which are very informative but still highlight the current problems.

Who accesses our profiles?

Any number of people could choose to look up your social media account – prospective employers, clients/customers, colleagues and friends. It is therefore important that your social media profile projects a professional image of you and one that you would be happy for all of the above groups of people to see.

Even with your security settings on private, your profile picture at the very least will still be visible to anyone who searches for you. Any inappropriate profile pictures should definitely be removed! Whilst your friends will find drunken photos amusing, a prospective employer will not…

If your security settings are not set to private – be careful what you post! Your employer may not check your profile but why take the risk? We’ve all heard the stories about the people who have called in “sick” and then put a post on Facebook about the super day out that they have planned. A job application to a personal injury firm, for example, could be hindered by posts complaining about the “compensation culture” and those who make claims.

But my accounts are for personal use…

This may be the case but that still does not stop people looking you up. An online profile is accessible to anyone who wants to search for you. It is different to sending your CV where you can choose who it is sent to. I know people who only use part of their names (i.e. leave or shorten their surname, or just use their first and middle name) on private accounts to keep them private and restricted to friends.

Linkedin

Probably the most commonly talked about form of social media in a professional context. As a starting point it should be professional! In a work capacity, this is likely to be one of the first ports of call for anyone looking for information about you. Pick your profile picture carefully and make sure that your profile is complete – nothing looks worse than a partially completed profile which could scream out that you got bored halfway through.

Keep it professional, complete and always up to date.

Facebook

Generally used as a personal form of social media but that does not mean that it is off-limits. If you don’t want people accessing your profile, change your security settings. Always remember that no matter how private your profile is, your profile picture is not. The image you project, will ultimately be associated with the firm that you work for. If you choose to leave it public, be careful about what you post.

Twitter

Twitter can actually be a very useful form of professional social media. A lot of legal updates and articles are posted and shared on Twitter before anywhere else. Certain sectors/industries will have their own hashtag i.e. #ukemplaw for Employment Law in the UK. A search of the relevant hashtags can quickly bring the latest legal news to your fingertips. Twitter is another place where it is important to be careful what you say. Whilst it can be used to raise your profile, in some cases it may be better to remain silent!

But what about the others?

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are some of the most frequently used forms of social media at present but what about old fads like Myspace – did you have an account? Is this still live? A google search of your name could reveal old accounts which you may have forgotten about, and will most definitely not recall the content! Make sure that any old/unused accounts are closed down if you no longer use these.

Top Tips

  • Always choose an appropriate profile picture;
  • Think about what you are posting and if you would be happy for your current or prospective employer to read it;
  • Social media can be great for professional development, make sure you utilise it;
  • But don’t leave things part completed or out of date, especially Linkedin;
  • Try out a Google search of your own name – see what this reveals and whether you would be happy with a perspective employer seeing the same information.

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