Your social media conduct can help, or hurt, your job search. In most examples, social media conduct hurts the job seeker. In the same way that job seekers do research on the companies they are applying to, hiring managers at companies to research on their applicants. For the most part, this consists of going through a candidate’s digital footprint online. For most people, their digital footprint mainly includes their social media profiles. Employers will check to see if there is anything they don’t approve of on a candidate’s online profiles. The company’s employees reflect on the company’s image, so employers want to make sure that they hire individuals that will best represent the company. This being said, it is very important to set up social media profiles in a way that will be positively viewed by hiring managers.
The quickest, and perhaps most effective, way to control your social media conduct on profiles is in the privacy settings. You can’t go wrong with having highly private social media profiles. If an employer can’t access your full profile, then your profiles can’t hurt you. The most important social profiles to keep private are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Facebook privacy settings can be accessed by going to facebook.com/settings?tab=privacy and Twitter can be set by going to twitter.com/settings/safety.
If increasing social media privacy during your job search is not an option, you can always go in and manually scrub your content and remove less than ideal social media conduct. It is very important to remove references to using illegal drugs or other illegal activity. If you are a candidate for a role and an employer sees drug references on your online profiles, they are much more likely to just move on to the next candidates. Indicators of disorderly conduct will also reflect poorly on your job search. Binge drinking, while legal, is not a good look for a job candidate. It might be best to take down pictures of yourself at parties or playing drinking games, at least until your job search is over.
The nice part about social media is that it provides a platform for users to express their opinions freely. However, it may be best to hide those opinions and public posts during a job search, While you have the right to free speech, you never know when a hiring manager might feel very strongly against your opinions. It is best to just take down those posts if you know that an employer will be looking through them. Posts about sensitive topics such as abortion are posts that are best left out of public-facing social media. You might even want to go through your “liked” pages on Facebook. The goal with social media conduct scrubbing is to come off as politically neutral as possible in order to not miss out on any job opportunities.
We’ve covered several bases of how social media conduct can hurt your job search, but it can also help. Since you know hiring managers will be looking at your social media profiles, this is an opportunity to replace negatively viewed activities with positive ones. Employers are looking for any indicators of personality and professionalism. If you have any pictures speaking at a formal event, or volunteering, this would be a great time to showcase them.
Not only do hiring managers do due diligence using social media, but they often do candidate discovery as well. Recently, there has been an increased popularity in hackathons and other programming competitions. These competitions frequently post pictures from the event and their winners on social media. Many employers who could not be involved in the competition itself look at the results on social media afterwards. Many interviews and job offers are given based on the competition results on social media. This is an example of where social media reflects well on the job seeker and can even help in their discovery.
While many may not admit to it, most hiring managers use social media in some form of their due diligence when evaluating new candidates. Taking this into consideration, job seekers should reflect on their online presence through an outsider’s perspective. If your posts and actions on social media do not reflect that of an ideal job candidate, you should evaluate whether or not you want that type of content up. On the most basic level, you can increase privacy settings on social media to make your sensitive information unreachable by hiring managers.
Go and clean up your social media profiles if needed. We have plenty of resources to help you on your job hunt. You can check them out on our resources pages.