If you are an accounting professional, you know how important your professional image is. Whether you’re meeting with a client to review their financial future or discussing internal reporting with company executives, your presentation skills need to reflect a polished, knowledgeable, and articulate individual. For many years, this might have only applied to your performance in the workplace. However, today, this extends to your social media presence as well.
“If you want to be seen as a respected professional, it’s important to ensure your social media profiles do not raise any red flags about your credibility,” says Michael Cooke, an Executive Vice President within The Execu|Search Group who oversees the Accounting/Finance division. “This is especially true in the finance industry where hiring managers are increasingly using social media to weed out unprofessional candidates. In an industry that has to follow strict regulations, an employer has to trust that you wouldn’t do anything to discredit the organization. Social media certainly blurs the lines between your personal and professional lives, so something like an inappropriate photo can call that all into question.”
Regardless of whether you’re actively job searching, here are a number of steps you should take to ensure your digital footprint reflects you in a positive light:
Step 1: Check Your Privacy Settings
Since social media sites update their privacy settings frequently, you’ll want to make sure that you are aware of what’s being displayed on your profiles. Most sites now have a feature where you can preview how your profile looks to certain viewers, so that is a tool that can help guide your security updates. If you’re job searching, you’ll want to pay close attention to how your profiles appear to people you aren’t already connected to.
Step 2: Remove Inappropriate Content
Take the time to review all of your social media profiles (including any you aren’t active on), and remove any content that could be misinterpreted by an employer. Although social media is a great platform for facilitating conversation and expressing your opinion, there are certain topics—such as politics and religion—and images that could be deemed offensive or insensitive when taken out of context. As a result, it’s important to comb through all your photos, tags, tweets, status updates, and article shares. If there is any doubt about whether or not something is appropriate, err on the side of caution and delete it.
Step 3: Be Consistent
Knowing that most employers will use social media to inform their hiring decision, you’ll want to ensure you are portraying a consistent image across all applicable platforms. This is especially important in regards to LinkedIn, which employers use to not only vet candidates, but identify professionals who could be a fit for a role. That being said, you’ll want to ensure the details on your resume align with your LinkedIn profile. If information doesn’t appear to match up, it could raise some red flags about your attention-to-detail—effectively harming your chances of landing the job.