Looking for your next job? Make sure your social media profiles are safe for work, because employers are screening candidates’ presence online.
- Keeping your personal social media profiles professional and appropriate is an incredibly important part of your job search (and retaining your job once you’ve gotten one).
- Over three-quarters of hiring professionals believe that checking a candidate’s or employee’s social media profile is an acceptable way to vet them.
- There are many ways to make sure that your social media is appropriate for the workplace, starting with avoiding anything violent, profane, explicit or illegal.
- This article is for job seekers who want to make sure that their social media profiles enhance their job search rather than hurt it.
Your personal social media profiles have the potential for serious repercussions in your professional life. In a 2020 survey by The Harris Poll, 70% of the employers who responded said they believe every company should screen candidates’ social media profiles during the hiring process. Moreover, 78% of employers believe that current employees should maintain a work-appropriate social media profile.
“Because we tend to view our personal social media accounts as being ‘personal,’ there’s a good chance that by viewing someone’s profile, you’ll get a glimpse into their personality beyond the resume,” said DeeAnn Sims-Knight, founder of Dark Horse PR. [Related content: How to Create a Great Resume]
What is a social media screening?
A social media screening is usually done prior to employment, when a candidate is applying for a job. It involves researching a prospect’s social media profiles and their activity, including what they post, like and comment on. Some of the platforms they are likely to check are LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and WhatsApp.
Generally, employers are looking for any red flags. These could include the sharing of illegal activities, offensive comments, violent or aggressive behavior, sexually explicit material, or confidential information.
Which social media channels can employers check?
Audit your social media accounts before applying for a position. While it’s important to check every account, there are some platforms hiring managers are more likely to check, such as LinkedIn.
“The three main platforms that most employers check are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter,” said Matt Erhard, managing partner of Summit Search Group. “I am personally most interested in the candidate’s LinkedIn profile, as it’s the most relevant.”
Most employers view LinkedIn as a secondary resume, and some even post jobs on LinkedIn. However, they are still likely to check other social media channels – such as Instagram. In addition to what you’re posting, make sure you are cognizant of who you follow and how they are interacting with your content.
“When I check a candidate’s Facebook or Twitter, my aim is more to get a sense of them as a person than to look for damaging information,” Erhard said.
- Instagram: Compared to the other social media channels, Instagram gives you a little more control over what is posted on your page. Keep your page professional and positive to give potential employers a sense of your attitude and personality.
- Twitter: Unless your profile is set to private, anyone can view what you post on Twitter and the other tweets that you like or reply to. Setting your profile to private prevents potential employers from seeing your content on Twitter, but may eliminate an opportunity to make a favorable impression.
- Facebook: Facebook is often seen as a more secure form of social media, because only people you are friends with can typically see your profile – if your settings are private. However, you still want to make sure that you are keeping tabs on what users post to your wall, tag you in and comment on your posts.