4 career-killing mistakes to avoid online

As anyone involved in the hiring process knows, impromptu online background screenings have become a common part of the applicant review process.

As such, there are some common sense rules to follow. (For example: Don’t put any photos of yourself engaged in illegal activities in your Facebook profile.)

But beyond the obvious, here are some online mistakes you should avoid to keep from hurting your future job prospects:

  1. Complaining about your job — If potential employers check out what you’re saying on social networking sites and see nothing but complaints about your boss or your company, they may not want you as part of their team. Also: Those complaints can get you in trouble with your current employer, too.
  2. Leaving your bio blank — Job seekers’ best bet is to treat their online profiles like a resume and use them to highlight accomplishments and experience. Include any skills you know companies are looking for right now, and also showcase non-work-related activities to present yourself as a well-rounded person.
  3. Communicating carelessly — Conversations that take place over email, social networking sites or other electronic means tend to be more casual than other types of communication. However, when the conversation is about a job, it’s important to be professional no matter how it’s conducted.
  4. Networking selfishly — Networking sites make it easy to reach out for job leads, introductions, recommendations and general career assistance. That said, you won’t get far if you inundate contacts with requests but rarely return the favor. Be gracious when asking for help, offer prompt appreciation and look for ways to reciprocate. Paying it forward is a great way to build professional goodwill.