Tips for Keeping Your Social Media Clean When Looking for a Job

When looking for a job, you’ll want to represent yourself well to potential employers. It’s not just about your GPA, your degree program, and your previous work history (though those things matter a lot), because all of it could be ruined if they see a picture on your Facebook page of you getting drunk at a party. It may have been years ago, but if you’re trying to paint yourself as responsible, professional, and mature, that picture does not support the message that you are looking to send.

According to a CareerBuilder study for 2015, 52% of employers now check the social media profiles of those that they are considering hiring. Thus, it is imperative that you review your online presence for anything inappropriate. Here are some things that you should do to clean up your profiles:

online job search concept

Search for Yourself Online

The first thing you’ll want to do is what anyone else would do when looking for information about you online: Google. See what comes up on you on several search engines and check to see whether or not it’s flattering. If it isn’t, those are your first areas for cleanup, though you’ll want to check some others.

Delete posts or photos with offensive language, images, etc.

This is the big one. Comb through ALL of your social media profiles, personal blogs, and anything that you post that could be seen by an employer. Check them for any of the following:

  • Profanity
  • References to sex, drugs, or alcohol
  • Racist or sexist language
  • Pictures of you engaged in illegal or indiscreet behavior (nudity, drunkenness, theft, etc.)

These types of posts can actually ruin job prospects for you, so delete them all.

Talk to your friends – or delete them

Look over your friends on social media. Do you talk to them a lot? If you have any friends who you haven’t seen in years and who you don’t even talk to online, you might want to delete them just to keep your profile fresh.

In terms of content, you’ll also want to look at your friends for appropriateness. Do you have a friend who insists on tagging you on every rant of theirs, or who constantly posts old pictures of you without permission to remember “the good old days”? Talk to any friends who you are concerned about (and maybe even those you normally trust, just to be on the safe side) and tell them to ask you before tagging or posting anything potentially sensitive. Tell them that you are trying to get a job, and that it’s nothing personal. If they can’t understand that, then maybe you shouldn’t be friends with them anyway.

Adjust Your Privacy Settings

Another option for keeping potential employers from seeing anything compromising is to adjust your privacy settings. On Facebook, for instance, you can restrict which things are public and which are private, and even set it up so that you have to approve posts from other people that involve you before they can go live. Of course, if there are any posts or pictures that should never be seen by an employer, the safest precaution is to delete them. Hopefully though, privacy settings will catch anything that falls through the cracks.

Don’t talk smack on employers – ever

One of the easiest ways to disqualify yourself from a position is for recruiters to find your old rants about former employers. Now, maybe that job was really bad and your manager was biased and unfair, but the people hiring you don’t know that. All they know is that if you are willing to bad mouth one employer, you might be willing to do so again – which could potentially hurt their reputation. Always remain professional about your previous and current jobs, and save those venting sessions for private, in-person conversations with friends and family.

These are some of the most important ways to improve your social media profiles prior to your job search. Can you think of any others?