How to be professional through social media

How to be professional through social media

Image of woman holding a coffee cup that reads

Social media is an easy way to promote yourself, meet new people and post about your everyday life, but most employers look at your social media platforms to determine your position in their company. In fact, 92% of companies are using social media for hiring, according to The Muse. It used to be that just a simple resume and interview would get you considered for a job, but a lot of recruiters are now scanning candidates’ social media as a part of the initial vetting process.

The good news is there’s a way to balance your personal life and professional career on social media. Not a lot of people take precautions on what they post either on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media outlet. Or do they not realize how important it is when you post something from five years ago…it’ll still be tied to your personal brand. Someone can easily screenshot your post even when it’s deleted and could use it against you at some point.  

If you want to know how to be professional through social media, here are some tips that can put you in the best light for employers researching your personality on digital platforms.

Know your platforms

Every social media platform is different and can get out of hand if you don’t use the appropriate outlet for what you post for.  Facebook is the most popular social media platform with over 1.65 billion monthly active users with a 15% increase in growth year over year, according to futurpreneur Canada. Its main use is for branding and building an audience, but many people use it to share posts online with family and friends online. So, adding a professional acquaintance on Facebook might not be the best option.

Most of the time we use social media to connect with a mix of friends, old high school or college classmates, co-workers or people we haven’t even met before. Each social media outlet has their own reputation that is appropriate for a certain setting.


Photo by Nordwood Themes.

For example, Twitter is a platform that can be used for professional and personal content, because you can either express your thoughts about your day, reply to someone else’s thoughts or produce your work content out for everyone to see. It’s easy to just tweet out, slip up and say something wrong considering Twitter’s largest demographic is young adults between the ages of 18-29, according to futurpreneur Canada.

With LinkedIn, it’s a more professional social platform, because most people mainly use the site for business use and to connect with business professionals. A lot of people can find job offerings or gives an opportunity to showcase their work.

Instagram is also a social media networking site that younger Americans (especially ages 18-24) use according to the Pew Research Center. This platform is geared for people to share videos, photos and to interact with others. Photos that involve showing too much cleavage, drunk videos or any obscene gestures should never be posted. Just be mindful who your audience is and the followers that see your posts.

Mind your “privacy”

Photo of sign that reads "private" on a red door with chipped paint. Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash.

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash.

Although you might post things that are professional, your friends who tag you in things might not. It’s important to make sure you adjust your social media settings to private in case your friends tag you things that you wouldn’t want anyone else to see. Or you could also un-tag yourself that you might see as inappropriate. The best privacy setting option is having your approval to be tagged before it shares on your profile.

Watch your language

Do not say anything that might offend someone or be inappropriate because that could tarnish your reputation as an individual and affect future employment as you climb the ladder. Avoid ranting on social media about anything emotional, political or religious because it can be offensive to others and put you into an unintended social stereotype. You can still post your opinions, but stay neutral, watch your language and find a way that wouldn’t trigger anything bad.  Leave those conversations for the dinner table and chats with close friends that will listen and challenge your views in an unemotional debate.

Never use foul language or curse words online, because it will reflect what kind of person you are and have others think twice about your character. Think long-term and how it might affect your career down the road.

Spell & Grammar Check

Be sure to double-check your spelling and grammar before you post something. And be sure to pay attention to your auto-correct settings…we’ve all been there!  This becomes increasingly important if you want to impress a marketing agency or digital media company where social media is a vital component of both external and internal communications.  It’s better to pay attention and edit your comments or posts before sharing them.

I recommend installing Grammarly, a free online checker to help check your spelling and grammar.  It works in your internet browser of choice so it can help you inside of emails, social media, blog posts and much more.

Photo by William Iven

Post things that you consider professional

Your entire life does not have to be shared on social media.  Let me repeat….your entire life does NOT have to be shared on social media! Those videos of you chugging a beer or trying your hand at the Tide pod challenge is not a good idea to show off on social media.  If you’re having to second guess if it’s a good idea to post it, it’s probably not. Just assume that if you wouldn’t want your mom or family to see it, then it’s probably better to not post them.

Posting things that are unprofessional could ruin potential job opportunities, so just when you think that no one is paying attention to what you’re posting, think again. Instead, consider posting pictures from your weekend explorations, tweeting about student organizations or retweeting about articles that you find interesting. Just keep it rated G and think about how the things that you post on social media will determine your personal branding.

Keep it consistent

Face it, most of us had usernames that were weird, random and clever, and there were many ways to do a crazy username instead of sticking with your first and last name, but ditch the nicknames or shortened names unless you use that consistently.

Being consistent with your username on all social media platforms helps others easily to find your account. You could be stuck with that username that you thought would be cool until you make a new account. Now, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow you to change your username. Just go to the settings and you’ll be able to edit your name which is super convenient.

Usernames aren’t the only things to be consistent on. There’s a lot of layers to this tip such as the filters you put on your photos or the consistent style of having the same profile picture on every social media account.

Employers can see your work gripes too

Photo by Free Stocks.

This is a common thing that a lot of employees overlook every day. Many people turn straight to social media to express something negative that happened to them at work. Whining about how boring your job is or complaining how someone at work is getting on your nerves shows that you are not professional.

Some make think there won’t be any consequences, but it’s more serious than it seems and can cause you more trouble than you think.  We live in a society where you are encouraged to express your feelings, but you should always be mindful of friends, family and colleagues that can read your posts on a public platform.  Even if you do not reference anyone’s name or personal information about them, they can always infer certain things when they recognize something about them wrong to express your feelings, but make sure you never post anything that is addressing someone.

There are some instances where posting about your work online is acceptable such as congratulating your coworker on a big accomplishment.  

Photo by RawPixel

Keep in mind that regardless what job you’re looking for, maintaining professional on social media is important for your reputation no matter what age you are. Even though it’s a common practice for social media to be used for personal use, it has become an increasingly important piece of job recruitment. Some of these tips might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often they’re overlooked. Now you can do some spring cleaning to your social media profiles and keep it classy, MTSU.