Social media has become an integral part of modern society. Millions of people around the world use social media to connect with one another. But this valuable tool also can be a detriment, particularly if you’re seeking employment.

What a person says or does on social media can come back to haunt them with regard to the impression they create with prospective employers. Questionable antics and comments may reflect negatively on a person without him or her even realizing it. According to a study by Reppler, a social media monitoring service, 91 percent of employers use social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to screen prospective employees.

Many people are completely unaware how others view them through their social media profiles and usage, but social media profiles provide a great deal of information about a person’s character and personality. Even seemingly innocent remarks and observations can be misconstrued. Though using profanity or offering commentary on controversial subjects is your right, such comments may not sit well with prospective employers.

However, the solution is not to abstain from social media altogether. This can send the wrong message to prospective employers. It may suggest that you are not current with the latest trends in technology and may give employers the impression that you are not adept at keeping up with the changing times.

The key is finding the right balance with social media. The following are a few tips to ensure your social media usage stays in line with your professional goals.

  • Do not post or tweet information that should be kept private. If you would not tell intimate secrets to another person, especially an employer, do not convey these details to your group of friends.

  • Recognize that it’s not only your comments that can affect perceptions of you. The friends you choose to accept and socialize with via social media can impact how others view you. If friends are prone to vulgarity and off-color commentary, employers may surmise that this type of behavior is acceptable to you. Screen friends and block those who do not meet your standards.

  • Know that security features on social media applications change frequently. It’s important to know just how private your information may be. For example, if you are tagged in another person’s photo, people outside of your friends list may be able to see that image. You have to police your sites and lock down the information as you see fit, only posting what is appropriate for the general public.

  • Do not complain about a job or boss publicly. Even if your boss is not on your list of friends, he or she may still learn about your comments through gossip. While verbal complaints with others may not be accurately tracked back to you, text is hard evidence to discredit.

  • Use social media as a networking tool to find other like-minded individuals in the same fields. Join industry-based groups and organizations so that you can share your ideas. Further expanding your reach through blogs and websites can also help your job hunt.

Social media is here to stay, making many details of people’s lives more public, so exercise caution with social media to keep your career afloat. 

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