Are Your Social Media Accounts Ready for the Job Market?

social media job market

It’s common knowledge now that most employers screen a job candidate’s social media presence to get a better sense of their background, character, lifestyle, and professionalism. Some reports even claim that up to 70% of employers are checking social media before extending a job offer.

And employers are looking at more than just your LinkedIn profile. They’re searching across multiple platforms in order to get a comprehensive picture of potential new employees and to see if their online “brand” aligns with what they’re projecting in the job interview and on their resume. It’s an additional screening step that employers are now taking to verify that you are what you say you are, so to speak, and that your social media profile and online presence confirm (and don’t conflict with) what they have learned from your job application materials and the job interview.

Here are the most important things you should do asap to ensure you’re sending the right message to potential employers and representing yourself well on social media.

Delete old tweets

The Washington Post recently published a fairly detailed guide on how (and why) to delete old tweets. According to the author, old tweets and posts are like “archives of our past selves,” but in many instances “those past selves have become liabilities” today. Over the past, say, ten years, you’ve changed, and the world has changed, and what may have been an inconspicuous comment or joke in 2008 could very well put your candidacy in jeopardy in 2018. It’s time to revisit all of your old social media posts and delete older, irrelevant content that does nothing to serve your current profile or reputation.

Avoid controversy 

It almost goes without saying that when you post social media content that’s highly controversial, too politically provocative or negative, or in general just instigative or highly charged, you run the risk of alienating a wide swath potential employers. While you’re certainly entitled to communicating your opinions and ideals, you may consider making these types of posts private so that you can control who sees them.

Consider your “brand”

In general, when you hit the job market you need to go through a ‘mindshift’ and realize that you are your own “brand.” Your complete digital profile (i.e. how you present yourself on social media, your google search results, the types of content you post online, etc.) is a compliment to your resume and cover letter, and informs the way that potential employers and new colleagues perceive you. When you’re cleaning up your social media before you go on the job market, think about the type of branding you want to project to potential employers and what type of perception you want them to come away with after viewing your accounts.

Revisit your college days

This should be a no-brainer, but employers still complain of running across compromising college (or high school) photos of potential new employees. They’re likely to be less concerned by the fact that you actually did a keg stand in college and more troubled that you somehow think that’s appropriate to make public or celebrate online. Having this type of content up for everyone to view indicates poor judgment, a lack of awareness of your personal brand, and unprofessionalism. Not the kind of impression you want to make on a potential new boss.

Ensure accuracy

Make sure none of your posts raise any red flags to employers by presenting a different timeline for your previous experiences. For example, if your resume says you were in graduate school in Chicago in the Spring of 2016, your employer will be highly suspicious if they see a post in March of 2016 where you happily announce the new job you just started in Boston.

Look to your network

Sometimes compromising photos or content are posted without our control or even consent. Be sure to communicate to your family and friends not to tag you in posts that could hurt your professional brand, and always be cautious about the actions you take in public with the awareness that anything could show up online within minutes.

Update privacy settings

While you may be tempted to take sweeping action and make all of your social accounts private, this can also set off alarm bells for potential employers who may wonder what you have to hide. Instead, either set one or two accounts as private or change your settings so that you have more control over the types of posts, pictures, and videos that are public.  

Optimize your LinkedIn account

This is your most important professional social networking tool. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and in the best shape possible. Think of it almost as a second resume/CV and spend a good amount of time and thought into building a detailed page that aligns with all of your other job materials.

Don’t just delete, add the good stuff!

Getting your online profile ready for the job market doesn’t mean simply deleting old party pictures or getting rid of those overly political posts. Consider the ways adding content or posts to your social accounts can help to bolster your professional brand and create a positive impression of you in the minds of employers. To do this, regularly like, post or comment on content and other accounts that are related to your industry or area of specialization. Employers will see you as someone who is “plugged in” to what’s trending and actively engaged in the latest news coming out of your field.

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