Social media is something that some of us have had longer than we've had a 401k. It's followed us through different periods of our life, from our mismatched college days, to our post-grad blues, even through job number one, and potentially job number two. While perhaps you have started to forget about some of those posts you made long ago, when you were certain only your close friends could see them, you might need to dig them up and decide whether or not you should get rid of them before they come back to haunt you in the future.
Wondering how your old social media profiles and posts can resurface, just like that ex-boyfriend you thought you'd never hear from again? Here are five ways they can get in the way of you and your career.
1. Potential Employers
The days of potential employers calling you in for an interview based on what they read on your resume and cover letter are over. Now, employers take to the internet to find out what you're up to and what you have been up to in the past. With just a few clicks and twenty minutes or so, HR departments can see all the way back to photos you once posted inside your Freshman dorm, a decade or more years ago, or photos of you drinking way too much, way too often, way too regularly.
Regardless if you remember taking them, there may be images of you posted from college friends with public profiles that are still linked to yours. A clean sweep means checking your own past albums as well as all the images you may be tagged in by others.
2. People You Network With
The same things goes with people you're interested in networking with. Perhaps you find someone you'd like to have as your career mentor or you are looking to create relationships with potential investors, they too may be hesitant to sit down with you based on social media posts. Or, you may notice that midway through your meeting with them, they bring up something you posted at 4 AM, one night, as a joke, that is not coming back to haunt you. Trust us, one of the first things potential colleagues do with your business card is to Google your name.
3. As Blackmail
We've read the headlines again and again of people losing jobs because of something they Tweeted years ago. Whatever you have posted on social media, even if it was just supposed to be something to make your friends laugh, can be something someone else screenshots and sends around your company or hands over to a news reporter - if they are trying to bring you down.
4. Past Opinions Represent the Present
A lot of people write, "The opinions expressed here do not represent my company or organization" on their Twitter profile. Another reason why you should go through your old social media profiles, regardless if you are still active on them or not, is because you don't want past opinions getting in the way of whether or not a company is eager to hire you to represent them in the future. Add the disclaimer just to be safe.
5. They May Be Out of Date
Your personal brand is your selling point to help you step up your career game. Making sure what it put out there on the internet, from you, accurately represents you, is something very important. You want to keep your personal brand message consistent, making sure that when people stalk you via social media, what you portray is truly what you are. A good way to make sure your personal brand is up to date is to compare your LinkedIn profile with your resume, and ensure that your most recent title can be seen across your active social media profiles.
Being stared at by strangers is something I have become very accustomed to. Not because I am a beautiful, ethereal being that catches everyone's attention (but I will take it if that's what you're thinking), but in the way that I am a Black woman, a Black person, and people tend to notice my presence. I don't think there is a Black person out there that can deny knowing what it's like to be stared at by a random person.