With the rise in popularity of Social media over the past 10 to 15 years, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are now so common, you would be hard pushed to find anyone who is not a member of at least one of these networks. On a more professional level, LinkedIn is being used increasingly and it is becoming the norm for lawyers and their firms to use it to promote their services, write articles and discuss current topical legal issues.

Put simply, social media now forms a huge part of our lives, be it on a personal or professional level and as such it very important that every one of us is aware of the impression a profile picture, status, photograph or comment, can have on the success of a job application. 

It is likely that many people will have ’grown up’ with Facebook and the like, so airing their political views, and sharing almost every aspect of their personal lives will be very normal to them and as a consequence they won’t necessarily anticipate potential problems. 

Lawyers by their very nature can be very conservative and risk averse, so the smallest thing could put a Partner off a candidate and cause a substantial fee to fall away.  Below is a quick guide to cleaning up our social media accounts.

Your Guide to cleaner Social Media

1. Update your LinkedIn

Employers will undoubtedly look at LinkedIn, but a lot of people, especially younger professionals, don’t spend much time on the network. As a result, it’s easy to let a LinkedIn profile fall by the wayside: an old, out-of-date photo; an online CV that hasn’t been updated in years; a dozen or two of pending connections; etc. Count on your employer checking out your LinkedIn and spend an hour or so getting it as up to date as possible. Even if you don’t use LinkedIn much, it can still be your professional face online.

2. Delete your own questionable posts

While you might cut loose on the internet a bit more than you would in real life, hiring managers who look at social media will still view what you post online as a reflection of who you are. If you’re frequently rude, profane, or offensive, those attributes can be turn-offs. If you frequently make posts loaded with typos or misspellings, it makes you look less intelligent and less qualified for most roles. If you go on frequent political rants, you might mark yourself as someone who can’t respect the opinions of others. There are many, many ways that you can make yourself look like a less desirable applicant on social media, so go through your recent posts and delete anything that muddies the image you want to present.

2. Delete your questionable photos

Cleaning up your photos should be a pretty easy step in this process. Anything that makes you look professional or respectable is good. Photos with family and friends are great; professional headshots are even better. However, if you still have pictures lingering online from your drunken university escapades, now is the time to scrub them. Photos that depict drinking, drug use, illegal activities, and anything overtly sexual don’t play well with law firms.

3. Un-tag yourself in undesirable photos that you didn’t post

If you’re lucky, any racy photos of you will be the ones you posted. If your friend uploaded and tagged you in something less-than-professional, though, you might have a bit more trouble getting rid of it. In a pinch, social media sites will let you un-tag yourself from any photos you don’t want to have popping up on your profile. This action should keep any potential employers from seeing those pictures—though it’s still not a bad idea to ask your friend to take down any offending images.

4. Choose professional photos as your profile pictures

We made mention of professional headshots above. If you’ve got one, make it your profile picture. This statement applies to any social media account, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Twitter. The professional picture sends an almost unconscious signal to a prospective employer that you are hireable material.

5. Don’t talk about work on social media

While you scour your social feeds for profanity or offensive jokes, also look out for any posts where you talked about work. Bringing your professional life into the realm of social media is a sticky situation, whether you’re complaining about a boss or talking about a project you’re working on. In the first scenario, you’re badmouthing an employer—an obvious way to get your CV disregarded, if and when a hiring manager sees it. In the second scenario, you could be divulging trade secrets or other details that are supposed to remain more or less confidential. In either case, you can expect prospective employers to be a bit wary about hiring someone who talks about work online, so set a rule for yourself to avoid those kinds of discussions.

6. Update your info

Believe it or not, many of us will have had a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for longer than a decade now. Because of how long some people go without updating their information, there’s a possibility that certain parts of your profile, like your “About Me” and “Favourite Quotes” sections, may have gone five or six years without an update. Most of the people who know you personally have probably been friends with you on social media for long enough that they never look at these inner sanctums of your profile. However, you never know what a prospective employer might look at, so go to your homepage and click “Update Info.” You will be able to review your profile, delete anything that is no longer true (or has become downright embarrassing), and present a more accurate compendium of who you are.

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