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Candidate Help & Advice

On Social Media, You Are the Company You Keep

Social Media photo from ShutterstockAre you wondering how to best balance personal and professional business connections on social media? If your personal connections are in stark contrast to your personal brand for business, the answer may be that you cannot.

According to, over 65 percent of employers check social media profiles as part of the job screening process. While profiles sprinkled with profanity and inappropriate pictures rank high in discouraging hiring managers, items posted by friends can also play a factor, especially on Facebook.

For small business owners, potential customers may easily become irritated or even offended by posts shared on Facebook timelines by friends that could be construed as offensive. In a poll on my own Facebook timeline, I asked Facebook friends if users are responsible for what their friends post on their walls. The debate heated rather rapidly, with an overwhelming number of responses. While several friends commented that they did not judgepeople on Facebook by items their friends posted, the majority felt that it is the responsibility of the profileowner, if not to censor, then to correct friends who post tastelessly. Otherwise, it appears that the profileowner condones the views and behaviors shared.

If you plan to interact with personal and professional friends via social media, use the following tips:

  1. Filter friend requests closely. Do not accept personal friends who lack discretion as social media connections on networks that you are using primarily for business and/or job search. You don’t have to reply that you will not accept them, you can simply ignore their request. However, if a connection confronts you about it, openly share that you are using social media primarily for business and offer to meet with them for coffee or lunch.
  2. Censor and/or correct whenever necessary. If a connection comments inappropriately on your update or shares something that could compromise your professional image and personal brand, feel free to correct them in the post or simply remove it. There is a difference between difference of opinions and posting something that would obviously be seen as distasteful to hiring managers and potential customers.
  3. Do not hesitate to unfriend. If you practice tip number one judiciously, this will very rarely be an issue. However, in the event that you have a connection who insists upon being insensitive to the fact that you are building a business presence on social media, it would be to your benefit to disconnect.

Do you believe a person’s social media connections reflect on them personally? Why or why not?