Top 10 ways social networking can kill your job search

If you’re on a job search, you’ve probably been either coerced into using social networking or it is your native element. Whichever, there are a few things that you need to watch to avoid social networking becoming the graveyard of your job search.

1). Don’t believe you have privacy. One of the most common errors is to believe that what you’re doing on Facebook or Twitter is private. It isn’t. Not only can people hack your Facebook privacy settings to see what you’re up to, but people can forward information on. Don’t think that restricting that information to your friends is going to help. Someone can say something or forward something quite innocently that can have disastrous effects on your career.

2). Restrict personal information tightly. When you’re posting or even writing emails, think to yourself, “Would I be damaged if this information got out to the whole world?” If the answer is “yes,” don’t write it. Don’t post it. Don’t do anything that anyone could forward, innocently or maliciously. Do I sound paranoid yet? Ask some of the people whose lives and/or careers and/or marriages have been ruined by a careless email or Facebook post if I’m paranoid. And remember, as Henry Kissinger said, “Even paranoids have real enemies.”

3). Watch political commentary. While some people believe that they are 100 percent right and everyone should think their way, a goodly portion of the (basically) sane world does not believe this way. If you must post political opinions, please make them courteous and to the point. Vilifying a political party or a person will come back to bite you.

4). Don’t “sound” desperate. Sending a group message to all of your LinkedIn contacts, for example, begging for a job is a big mistake. Even if the house is about to be foreclosed on, you have to behave and “sound” cool. Remember Fonzie. Be cool.

5). Don’t be dishonest. OK, so everyone “fudges” a thing or two on their résumé. I understand. But if you’re out and out dishonest, it will get out in a hurry. Make sure that the gap between what you say and what you actually are is not a yawning one, but, at most, a crack in the sidewalk. Best of all, say who you are and what you can do without “fudging.”

6). Watch how open you are about hobbies. I understand that you might enjoy jumping out an airplane without a chute and snowboarding down an avalanche-warning mountain. I do. But your employer might, somewhat justifiably, see this as an indication you might miss work on Monday. If you list any hobbies on Facebook or your LinkedIn profile, make them safe and generally accepted. Nothing controversial!

7). Watch how open you are with memberships. Again, nothing controversial. Also, nothing that can be threatening. I have one client who is a member of MENSA, and I told him to take this off of his résumé. Why? Because his intelligence might be a threat to an employer who is not as bright as he is. And that leads me to….

8). Be careful how you present yourself. One person I know speaks in ancient Latin and ancient Greek, as well as some Spanish and a bit of ancient Hebrew. Yeah. This is probably something (other than the Spanish) that you don’t want to list on your profiles. You look too intelligent and are a threat. Similarly, if you have body piercings and tattoos that are all over your body in unseen places, you don’t want to talk about that, either, now do you?

9). Use strategy in whom you invite on LinkedIn. While you want to accept all invitations, you don’t want to invite everyone and their sibling. Strategize about which people you’ll invite. Make them people who could help you in your target market.

10). DON’T get “IDKed!” The worst thing that can happen to you (on LinkedIn) is that someone can say “I don’t know this person.” LinkedIn gets all frothy at the mouth about that. So don’t send the generic invitation. Send one personalized and specifically ask to just be ignored if they don’t want to connect.