So, you’re ready to make the move and there are one or two roles that actually grab your interest. Great! But we encourage you to pause for a moment and review whether you have any skeletons lurking in the proverbial closet before pressing that APPLY button.
Since the advent of social media in its various forms, there’s an ever-increasing appeal for people to express themselves in public forums. It’s a harsh reality that some individuals are more expressive than others.
Now, we never encourage people to be anything other than themselves. However we do encourage you to be mindful that when expressing yourself it’s likely to be more than your friends who may review your posts and will form an opinion, and probably at a time when you’re not prepared for it.
Over the years we have counselled a number of candidates on the importance of sanitising their social media to ensure nothing innocent could be uncovered and misinterpreted by their ideal prospective employer.
You may well say ‘My Facebook profile is actually mine and it’s for private use!'
We hear you. Honestly. But make it private. Adjust your settings so that only your friends are able to view your images and posts. If not, it is actually public and we can guarantee your prospective employer is going to look to see whether there is anything controversial in any of the social forums that would be a cause for concern, either for that employer’s corporate culture, or a concern for their clients.
Think of it as a silent reference check. One that doesn’t need to be done with your consent because it’s out there in the public domain.
Australian workers are actually protected against discrimination, and that protection extends to religious and political views, sexual preference, gender and race. Reciprocally however, when individuals are putting things online that could be perceived as racist or a predisposition to bullying, that can be a problem as it can translate quite easily into the workplace and employers will want to de-risk themselves from that occurring.
Perhaps that may seem extreme behaviour for most lawyers, so let’s consider dialling those issues down to something a little more commonplace yet still of concern for most reputable law firms – perhaps risqué images; shots of promiscuous or drunken behaviour after hours; or what about offensive comments. Think about the casual F-bomb in your posts to your friends. Or worse, the C-bomb, as that is morally reprehensible to many (if not all) prospective employers.
There are other comments that could be less confronting, yet could still be your undoing for that perfect role. An example could be your extreme your views on certain issues, political or otherwise.
We trust this provides some perspective.
With the exception of locking down your privacy settings to limit posts to only select family and friends, you will always need to survive the scrutiny of an employer sniffing around your social media profile. So here’s some sage advice for professionals looking to become good digital citizens, however innocent the intention:
Rethink posting inappropriate photos or videos;
Remove images perceived to indicate immature behaviour or an overindulgence in recreational drinking;
Refrain from making comments on other people’s posts that are lewd and controversial;
Discontinue making condescending remarks about previous employers or colleagues, no matter how justified you feel in your comments.
At the end of the day, you need to be yourself and whatever you put out there you need to ‘own it’ … and that translates into accepting the consequences of your actions.
While you are reviewing this, one last thing to consider is whether your LinkedIn profile reflects the accuracy of your resume, and conversely. There’s nothing that causes a prospective employer concern than inconsistencies in one’s employment record. More on this in our blog specifically on LinkedIn.