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Social Media Smarts – Get Over Your Fears and Get Engaged

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You’ve heard it all before. Experts caution: “Be careful what you post on the Internet because it may come back to haunt you.” This advice comes as no surprise if you’re on the lookout for a new job. Yet, while these experts are quick to tell you what not to do, they rarely make constructive suggestions otherwise. This constant state of alert has some of us fearing for our own professional lives.

The reality? You have more freedom than you think. If you’re committed to the success of your career, here’s a list of tips that you can start putting in place today:

DON’T: Complain about your boss or expose intimate details about coworkers, friends, family or yourself. Legally, you’re free to converse with coworkers on social media sites about your job. It’s one thing if you’re aiming to improve the workplace but ranting about how your boss is a big jerk won’t endear you to anyone. Not only can that behavior get you fired, it won’t help your chances of getting hired anywhere else either.

DO: Join and engage with alumni groups, organizations and associations that reflect your individuality. Express your opinions and communicate clearly on your social media pages. Employers will be attracted to you as a candidate if you demonstrate great communication skills. Be strategic and think before you post because your next post could be the ticket to a great job.

DON’T: Post inappropriate pictures of yourself under any circumstances. Nowadays, social media sites are the de facto platforms to promote your skills to employers. This CareerBuilder report lists the many ways your resume could be tossed in the trash due to social media, and how it could make its way to the top of the pile.

DO: Share your vacation pictures on Instagram or Facebook—just be tasteful about it. Employers want to get a feel for your personality and other characteristics difficult to glean from your resume. They want to know that you’re professional but have a life. According to Forbes, a super clean Facebook page that offers no character tells employers that the user either had a previously racy profile that was recently polished, or the user has no social skills.

DON’T: Hide in fear and delete every social media account you’ve ever owned. These pages can be used as networking tools to forge new connections and express your professional persona. In an employer’s eyes, it is better to have a social presence than to be completely nonexistent.

DO: Curate a well-thought out, integrated online presence – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are just the basics. If you’re a marketing guru or graphic designer, add Pinterest to showcase your latest brochures and trade show signage. If you’re an academic or computer genius, consider answering questions on Quora.

And as a general rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t want your Grandma to see it, don’t post it. Seriously, I’m talking to you.