Back to the blog

Safe Social Media Practices: Overcoming A Fear of Social Media

Employment Advice For Persons With Developmental Disabilities

drawing of a person thinking about their career

Artwork provided by an individual supported by Reena.

Dear Joanna,

I am learning how to use social media tools in my job search, especially Linkedin. I’m worried about posting my photo and other personal information, and particularly concerned that my disabilities will be seen by the entire cyberspace. How do I keep my privacy on these sites? How do I handle my fear of this important job search and career tool?

Signed: Social Media Worrier

Dear SMF,

Practicing safe social media networking is the way around your concerns. Here are some suggestions from as well as from employers with whom I interviewed in order to avoid “unwanted attention” as well as the “danger of having a false sense of anonymity and security”.

  1. Do not post inappropriate material. Be aware of who can see your pictures and comments. Think about the possible reactions of your potential employers, parents and relatives before posting. Always remember to look at the background of a picture too. Everything you write or post is permanent. Even if you can delete your account, anyone on the Internet can easily download or print the information or save it to a computer.  Think carefully before posting your personal information (our phone number, email address, home address, name and age). The web can make a strong first impression. Untag unwanted material from others, such as on Facebook. Use Google to search your name. Make sure there is nothing online that you don’t want others to see.
  2. Always use the strongest privacy account settings. All sites have this option to help you with confidentiality issues. Secure your personal information. Make your profile viewable to friends only, and not to everyone in your network.
  3. Focus on your ABILITIES, experience, qualifications, skills and education. I’ve mentioned this point in several of my blogs, and I’ll mention it again. You can prepare a social media profile that communicates your strengths, not your limitations, that target those companies and industries where you would like to work. Analyze a few profiles of professionals in your field to learn how you can showcase your experience and enthusiasm that you will bring to the job, the team and the company. Joining the groups in your industry/sector is another way to network, and learn more about your field and the people working in it.
  4. Be selective about who you accept as a friend on a social network. Identity thieves might create fake profiles in order to get information from you. This is known as social engineering.
  5. Be careful about installing extras on your site and delete unused widgets. Many social networking sites allow you to download third-party applications that let you do more with your personal page. Criminals sometimes use these applications in order to steal your personal information. To download and use third-party applications safely, take the same safety precautions that you take with any other program or file you download from the Web.
  6. Choose your social network carefully and only use sites with clearly stated terms of use. Evaluate the site that you plan to use and make sure you understand the privacy policy. Find out if the site monitors content that people post. Read the terms of use, and make sure they can protect the actual blogs, not just the user accounts, with password protection. (Even so, it’s better to assume anyone can see it.)

Regards: Joanna

To submit your questions and comments to this column in confidence, please email Joanna Samuels, Employment Resource Specialist at Reena.