Table of Contents
- 1 According to a 2017 survey, 70% of employers look up applicants on social media before hiring — a 10% jump from the previous year. And as we become ever more extremely online, it’s safe to assume that this percentage will keep ticking up.
- 2 To learn more about what employers are really thinking when they check on applicants’ social media, I reached out to Sara Skirboll, VP of Communications at CareerBuilder. Here’s what we talked about:
- 3 1.First of all, you should know that in pretty much every field, employers like to check up on candidates’ social media presence. But certain industries might scrutinize your profiles more than others.
- 4 2.Of all the social media platforms out there, LinkedIn still reigns supreme when it comes to your job search.
- 5 3.What’s considered “professional” can vary a lot depending on the kind of work you do. If you’re not sure how a post or photo would be received in your industry, you might want to take it down just to be on the safe side.
- 6 4.It’s a really good idea to do regular check ups on all of your public profiles to make sure they’re in tip-top shape.
- 7 5.Managing your social media during a job hunt isn’t just about hiding your party pics or deleting inflammatory posts. You also want to add content regularly that reflects on your professional interests.
- 8 6.And definitely make a habit of posting your career wins.
- 9 7.Choose a profile photo that’s professional and matches your current look.
- 10 8.Ask someone else to look over your posts or use a tool that can help you cut down on typos.
- 11 9.Don’t contact potential employers on social media to check on your application.
- 12 10.If all this sounds like a ton of work, you could just set your more personal profiles to private.
- 13 11.But be aware that if you’re going for roles in a very-online industry, your online presence should help show off your social media skills.
- 14 Do you approach your social media differently when you’re looking for a new job? Share your tips and tricks in the comments.
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Employers aren’t just looking — 54% said that content they’d seen on social media actually made them decide against hiring a candidate. Your social media use could even hurt your current job.
There are high-profile examples of this, like that time a woman lost her internship at NASA after tweeting, “Suck my dick and balls, I work at NASA.” Or the exec who claims that her tweets opposing school closures and mask mandates during the pandemic cost her her job.
It’s enough to make you wonder, should rule #1 be, “Just don’t tweet”???
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Though some Gen Z’ers are using TikTok to find jobs, your LinkedIn presence still matters a lot to employers who are curious about your digital vibe. Skirboll says, “LinkedIn is typically the first place an employer will look to see your job history, skills and presence. Think of it as your online résumé. That said, keep all social channels updated as they are still a part of your digital footprint.”
For LinkedIn, filling out your whole profile is a great idea as it can help you show up in more searches for people with your skills and experience. You might also want to add your thoughts to discussions in LinkedIn groups — one writer says her profile got 425% more views after she joined a few conversations.
3.What’s considered “professional” can vary a lot depending on the kind of work you do. If you’re not sure how a post or photo would be received in your industry, you might want to take it down just to be on the safe side.
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For example, if you’re in a creative field, then pictures with visible tattoos are probably no big deal. But if you work in a more traditional or conservative environment, then you might want to keep your ink covered up in your professional profiles. If you’re ever unsure, Skirboll says, “I live by the phrase, ‘when in doubt, delete.’” After all, you don’t want to miss out on opportunities that you’re qualified for because someone made a snap judgement about your social media.
Of course, there are some things that pretty much any employer will see as a dealbreaker, like hate speech, badmouthing your job, lying about qualifications, and controversial or NSFW content.
4.It’s a really good idea to do regular check ups on all of your public profiles to make sure they’re in tip-top shape.
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Once you’ve scrubbed your social media for any potentially problematic content, don’t stop there. Skirboll says, “Making thoughtful comments on relevant LinkedIn posts can boost your strength as a candidate and grow your network of potential references.” So use your social network to, well, network a little bit. If this feels awkward, look at how your mentors and influencers in your industry interact for ideas.
6.And definitely make a habit of posting your career wins.
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Don’t be shy about sharing your professional accomplishments. Skirboll says, “When you hit important professional or personal milestones, it’s often worth sharing on social media, more importantly when those milestones emphasize your skillset whether that be earning a certification, graduating from any level of schooling or being featured on your local news. Diverse content like this can help you stick out to a recruiter while they are scanning for candidates that may be the right fit.”
So when you get named employee of the month, wrap up an important public-facing project, publish a new article, or land a promotion, don’t forget to post it.
7.Choose a profile photo that’s professional and matches your current look.
8.Ask someone else to look over your posts or use a tool that can help you cut down on typos.
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No matter how good you think your spelling and grammar are, English is a helluva language and it’s super easy to make mistakes. So you might want to have someone else look at your posts for you, or try a tool like Grammarly that can help you spot errors before you post.
And for your professional profiles, Skirboll says that using internet slang and abbreviations could look sloppy to potential employers. “Social media tends to be a place where text is typed in abbreviated format — some being trendy phrases. It all depends on the platform, but do avoid incorrect use of words like ‘ur’ instead of ‘you’re’ or ‘n’ instead of ‘and’ which can come off as unprofessional to a hiring manager.”
10.If all this sounds like a ton of work, you could just set your more personal profiles to private.
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Don’t want to worry about how you’re being perceived online? Skirboll says that in many cases private profiles won’t reflect terribly on your chances. “Most recruiters and employers understand a candidate’s desire to prioritize their privacy, so it isn’t generally a red flag to see that one’s profiles are set to private. Many people like to keep work and life separate, especially on platforms that are more friend and family-oriented.”
You might also create professional profiles that reflect your work image and use alts without your real name for your personal profiles. Or if social media isn’t really your thing, you might consider creating a professional website instead that showcases who you are and what you do. It all depends on how important social media is in your industry and what you’re personally comfortable with.
And for more stories about work and money, check out the rest of our personal finance posts.