You may think that social media is just for catching up on your friends’ happenings and favorite celebrities. Your Instagram profile may be for your dream vacations while Pinterest is for finding easy dinner recipes. Either way you may think your social media profiles are private enough that you can share whatever you like without fear of it affecting your career but you are wrong. Your social media presence can help or hinder your job search.
Recruiters and hiring managers are turning to social media more than ever to research job candidates. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that roughly 60 percent of employers confirm they use social media to do research on candidates. There are even positions within companies that are solely tasked with creeping on the social media accounts of employees and potential employees to dig up dirt and to uncover their true characters.
They want to see candidates with an active online presence but one that is in line with their company’s values and mission. A candidate that appears happy, healthy, and living an active lifestyle where they are involved in the community will have a greater chance of being hired. The person they see on social media should also align with the one they seen on a resume and in an interview. Big inconsistencies between who you are as a person on social media and in an interview will be red flags to the employer. Don’t be afraid of who you are, just present yourself in a mature, career-oriented way.
Now that you know the companies you are hoping to apply with will be checking your social media accounts to run a social media background search, your first reaction is likely to delete them all. Completely erasing your social media profiles is not the right action to take. Having no online presence doesn’t necessarily look good either. The survey also found that 35 percent of employers are less likely to interview candidates they can’t find anything about online. Instead, do a little spring cleaning on your accounts to delete or privatize things that you wouldn’t want someone interviewing you to see.
So what exactly should you be looking to clean up on your profiles? Think of things that show or imply that you are doing something inappropriate. What images need context for someone to understand? What posts need context for someone to understand. Make your profile simple but still a reflection of who you are. You may need to go back a few years to make sure there aren’t things from your college days that aren’t reflecting your current situation.
A picture of you doing a keg stand is something you should remove. A picture of you sipping a cocktail at a friend’s wedding is safe. Stay away from pictures of you doing things that are controversial like smoking marijuana or are provocative with a little too much of your body broadcasted across the screen. Your future boss does not want to see a photo of you hitting up the nude beach or trying to seduce others in your bathroom.
We are not saying every photo on your account needs to be of you in a fancy work suit but they should still be respectful of the laws and others. If there are photos that others tag you in that you don’t like, either untag yourself or ask to have the photo removed. Make your profile picture on LinkedIn a power headshot and have your other profile pictures a clear image of you so that those searching for your account are sure they found the right one.
The words you type can say a lot about your personality and attitude. Whether it is your own words or those that you share/retweet, the implications of those words may go deeper than you think. Companies don’t want to worry about an employee that may cause rifts because something you shared implies you have a problem with authority. Companies are looking for intellectual but respectful candidates to join their team. This means showing restraint on overly political posts, off-color jokes, drama, bad things about a current employer, and complaints about ex employers.
No matter what, remember that even if you put a number of settings on your profiles to make things private, there is still a chance of the wrong person seeing something. Your profile should reflect how you want to present yourself to the world and to the company you are applying to. Present the best you possible to others, not the complete mess, party-animal that rants about problems at work.
All social media platforms have levels of privacy settings that you can utilize but nothing will be completely private. Should you have a friend that works at the company you work at, it will be easier for the company to find access to your profile, past the privacy settings. Always be aware that while you can limit who can see your profiles, you can’t completely stop people from seeing them. The moment you decide to post something, it is no longer private no matter what kind of settings you have in place.
How can you be sure your settings are how you want? Some platforms have a public view setting that you can check so you can see what your profile looks like to those that are not friends. You can also log out and login with a different account – either a friends or make up a new one – so you can see what others are looking at when they see your profile.
Things to Add:
With all the things you are taking off your social media accounts, there are things that you can add that will help your job search. Show off your accomplishments through pictures or posts noting what happened. LinkedIn is generally the best place to show off career accolades but feel free to brag a little about a reward you received at work on any social media platform. Focusing on the positives at work are things future employers want to see not only because it shows you are receiving awards at work but that you are positive about the opportunities.
See the following articles for more information:
- Why You Should Change Jobs Every 3 to 5 Years
- 5 Steps to Making a Bold Career Move
- How to Best Prep for Your Next Interview
- 5 Pieces of Career Advice Not to Follow
- 5 Ways to Build Your Career Outside of the Office