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Published on May 30th, 2013 | by admin

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How Much Is Too Much Information on Social Media?

People tend to “share” everything from the morning news headlines to the haphazard snapshot taken in the bathroom mirror, but how much is too much information to put up on social media? Now that employers and other people will routinely check your social media feeds to find out more about you, how free should you be with your information?

To find the best answer for you, first look at the benefits of having publicly visible social media profiles when you’re looking for a job. Social media platforms give us a unique chance to tailor the information we present to the world. Just as the color of the tie you wear to your interview says something about your personality and determination to succeed, your profile pictures, media updates, likes and shares will all say something important about you. If you’re looking for a job via email, your online profiles may also provide the recruiter’s first impression of you right after they glance over from the resume you emailed them. Social media can be an equalizer: whether you’re a social media neophyte or have the technological skill of someone who teaches candidates for online fraud management master degrees, your pages and profiles can look as good as everyone else’s.

Privacy First

If you are in the market for a job, take note of your social media platforms’ privacy settings. You may want to make some of your profile private, for example, information about your family. But, if you are going to make most of your information public, remember that even the things you “like” on Facebook will say something about you. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have found that a person’s “likes” can show personal traits far beyond whether you think a photo of a cat wearing a tutu jumping over a rabbit is simply hilarious. The researchers, who published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that a person’s sexual orientation, political and religious views and use of addictive substances could all be extrapolated from Facebook likes. It’s safe to say, most of the above traits are ones that we’d rather prospective employers not think about when they hire us.

Clearly, you should be careful of what you post publicly. Worried about showing something to your college admissions officer? Don’t post it. Don’t want the person across from you in the interview room knowing what you look like after a few too many? Don’t post it.

Make Your Information Work for You

There’s also a case to be made for posting more information about yourself if you think your pages will be viewed by a potential employer. For example, the work experience and job history that you’ve listed on your resume should be backed up on your social media profiles, or at least shouldn’t contradict it. If you’ve stated on your resume or in your cover letter that your recent gap in employment history was due to a family member’s illness, then you might hide the photo albums or blog posts that show what a great time you had on vacation in Mexico over those same dates.

The same agreement should occur for your interests, volunteer experiences and soft skills that you highlight on your resume. If you write on your resume that you’re fluent in Russian, then it doesn’t hurt to retweet some news articles about the Russian economy. If you’ve been a volunteer at a homeless shelter, start giving that organization’s Google updates a plus one to document your support. Posting photos or videos from your volunteer tasks or of your outside interests can help future employers see you as a whole person and illustrate the two-dimensional information that is presented on your resume.

However, be careful of going too far with your profile padding. Sometimes too much is just too much.

About the Author: Jenna Williamson is the head of the IT department for a bank based in Virginia. When hiring new recruits, she’s likely to spend a few moments checking their social media profiles.


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