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Are You Avoiding Social Media? Maybe You Shouldn't.

Are You Avoiding Social Media? Maybe You Shouldn't.

I'm not a big social media user. I don't tweet or Instagram or Snapchat — I'm only on Facebook so I can see what my kids are posting. I figure my coworkers hear enough from me while we're inside the office that they don't need to know every single thing I'm doing outside of it.

I meet a lot of physicians who feel the same way, who do everything they can to keep their professional and personal lives separate. But I recently read a study that made me think a bit differently.

According to CareerBuilder, 35 percent of employers are less likely to interview candidates they can't find online. And that's not just IT folks or sales employers. Nearly 50 percent of healthcare employers look at social media to screen candidates.

So what does this mean to physicians who are considering a new job? It's time to get online.

Start by googling yourself

Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to keep your life off the Internet, chances are good you're still there. Take a second and type your name into Google. You might see a link to your current employer, an old photo from an alumni publication, or the minutes associated with political causes you've donated to. And you will certainly see patient reviews — both good and bad — on websites like HealthGrades.com.

Now put yourself in an employer's shoes. What do these Google results say about you? Do they paint a complete picture of you as a physician? Do they highlight your skills? Your professional accomplishments? Your rapport with patients?

If not, you've got some work to do.

Find the right type of social network

Not all social media networks are created equal. Facebook is great for sharing pictures and stories with those you're close with. Twitter is good if you want to interact with strangers or weigh in on issues in real time. But if you're looking to create a professional profile, I recommend you start with LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a great place to tell your story. Not only can it house your resume, but it also allows you the freedom to bring your CV to life. You can highlight professional accomplishments, share why you're passionate about medicine, or promote your research. It also allows you to reconnect with former colleagues or friends from medical school who could help you get the inside track on a new position.

Once your profile is complete (see these 5 Tips for Improving Your LinkedIn Profile), potential employers can easily find you online and get a quick snapshot of both your professional experience and who you are as a person. And most importantly — as opposed to online review sites — you control the message.

LinkedIn is not the only option. ZocDoc and Vitals also allow physicians to create a custom profile with photos, credentials, and accomplishments. Because these sites are targeted at consumers, they also include patient ratings.

Be careful of what you share

If you're looking for a new job, or just want to have an impact on what people see when they Google your name, having a social media presence may be a good idea. But once you're online, make sure to think before you post. HIPAA regulations apply on social media, too, so never reveal names of patients you're treating or post photos of things that could identify them; e.g., charts, notes, or X-rays.

It's also smart to keep things positive. A lot of people use social media to vent about their job, boss, or coworkers. Even if these messages never get back to the involved parties, they can be a real turnoff to potential employers.

When in doubt, keep it simple. Maintaining a succinct professional profile on one or two social networks will allow employers to easily find you online and help you present your best self to your next boss.

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