Social media is all fun and games, until it results in a poor online reputation that negatively impacts your job search!

Everyone is on social networking sites these days. Employers and job seekers alike have discovered the importance of marketing your brand and establishing strong networking relationships, two key elements to a successful job hunt.

Whether you're launching a new business, showcasing your expertise, or looking to advance in your career, social media can help you craft your image and further your goals. If used incorrectly, however, social media mistakes can do the opposite. Since social media has made connecting easier than ever, it's vital that you act professionally on your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts to achieve positive results, maintain a positive online reputation, and avoid personal branding mistakes. Do any of these situations ring a bell?

Social Media Mistake #1: Your photos from last weekend were shared — widely

Take control of your content by managing the settings on each of your accounts. Adjust your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts depending on the nature of the topics and photos you share. Your friends will want to view last weekend's get-together, but check to see whether your privacy settings also allow “friends of friends” to see your posts and pics, since your extended network may include a prospective employer or two.

Bottom line: Got some unruly candids of you and the gang doing melon ball shots? Avoid social media mistakes by limiting visibility to just the people who appear in the photos. Better yet, just don't post inappropriate photos at all.

Social Media Mistake #2: You're camera shy

Your LinkedIn profile will be easier to locate by prospective employers if you post a clear headshot of just you (no groups shots), taken from the shoulders up against a neutral backdrop. LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to add a background image to your profile, perhaps one that hints to the nature of your work or your industry.

Bottom line: Prepare for your close-up by dressing for success. One personal branding mistake would be to use a default clip art image. If you do this, don't be surprised if interest from prospective employers on LinkedIn falls well below your expectations.

Social Media Mistake #3: You're anything but camera shy

Facebook and Instagram are your go-to places when you want to show off your bikini bod on the beach in Cancun. Stepping up your game online means delivering a more curated selection of professional photos and updates.

Bottom line: Believe it or not, your friends may also “like” your posts showing the volunteer work you're doing, the child you're mentoring, the fascinating article you read, or a slide of the research project you just completed.

Related: Social Media Check: Steps to Protect Your Privacy During a Job Search

Social Media Mistake #4: The Twitterverse is very important to you

Sure, Twitter is important — but your extended professional network, including recruiters who are scoping you out, might not agree with every opinion you feel you must share there. Once you've tweeted that less-than-politically-correct statement, you can't retract it. Yes, you heard that right; it's in cyberspace f-o-r-e-v-e-r.  Anything can be shared, retweeted, or cached.

Bottom line: Avoid this social media mistake by keeping comments clean, steering clear of religious proselytizing or political opinion, and aiming for an upbeat tone. Otherwise, your job search might come to a grinding halt.

Social Media Mistake #5: Your LinkedIn profile is missing some key elements

Who needs a headline or summary on LinkedIn? You do, that's who. Even if you are not currently seeking employment, having a strong LinkedIn headline permits colleagues to orient themselves to your role in the workplace. Many people list their job title, but if you are just starting out, try something a little out of the ordinary: “Aspiring Financial Analyst”, “Organizational Development Professional,” or “Social Media Marketing Specialist.” Your summary gives extra detail about your brand: the work you do, the goals you've set, and your professional mission.

Bottom line: By using LinkedIn's Headline and Summary features, you give people a chance to discover your contributions and your “voice.” Perhaps most importantly, a concise summary helps distinguish you from the others who do what you do.

In a world where hyper-engagement through social media is the norm, we need to be ever mindful of the impression that we make on all of those platforms to maintain a positive online reputation. LinkedIn — the reigning champ in turning contacts into colleagues — is the place where our personal brand needs to be carefully and consistently nurtured to ensure a respectable presence. Twitter helps keep us on track about what is trending, and Facebook and Instagram engage us more casually with our personal networks. With so much being shared, easily found information can be used to assess your competence, your judgment, and even your suitability for a new opportunity. You've only got one personal brand; make sure that it conveys a positive, and professional online presence.

Click on the following link for more job-search advice on improving your personal brand.

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