Your social media accounts are snapshots of your life. Your photos, comments, and thoughts are stored in perpetuity once they are posted online, which can be great for a walk down memory lane but not so great when you are looking for a new job.
By now we’ve all heard the news: recruiters often actively seek out applicant’s social media accounts to learn more about who they are as people. In fact, a survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that up to 70 percent of employers delve into a candidate’s social media accounts during the recruitment process – and 24 percent of those that say they scope out applicant profiles admit that they do so to see if there is a reason why the candidate shouldn’t be hired.
Understanding that your social media account can either be a help or a hindrance is critical. To make sure that it isn’t a liability, learn to be savvy with managing your accounts. Here’s how:
Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat may make you feel as if you are having a personal conversation with friends, but that is only true if you have learned to lock down your privacy settings to make that so.
While each site works slightly differently and offer different levels of privacy, here are the basics: having your profile set to “Public” means that anyone, with or with an account on that platform, can see your posts. A “Private” account typically means that only those people that you choose to connect with can see what you share. To learn the ins and outs of setting up your privacy controls on each platform, take a look at this handy guide.
A great rule of thumb to live by is this: if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see a photo or comment that you have posted online, take it down! Treat all of the information you post online as if it is public – if you wouldn’t want it displayed on the front page of your local newspaper, take it down.
You want your profile to appear professional – or, at least inoffensive. So, while it’s fine to leave your cute cat videos, you should take down your rants about politicians or your complaints about your boss. You should also consider keeping your professional and personal profiles separate. On your professional profile, you can share industry news and other PC information.
Once you have your accounts on lockdown, it’s wise to do an online search of your name to see what appears. Even when your profiles it set to private, it’s possible that some information will be visible. For example, if you have been tagged in friends’ photos online, those might appear in a search of your name.
Other things to look for include reviews you may have written on Yelp, comments you’ve made online in forums, and other information. Don’t just scour the first page of the search results either, especially if you have a common name. Take the time to scroll through several pages of search results and make a list of anything that you might need to go back and delete.
If you know that you are going to begin a job search in six months, consider proactively building out your profile to make it pleasing to probing recruiters (and perhaps consider putting a resume builder to use, too). As mentioned about, one option is to create a designated professional profile. Another is to add great content to your existing social media sites.
Say you are applying for a job as a restaurant manager. You might consider setting up a Google alert to deliver articles on the food and beverage industry to your email. Then, share the most interesting articles to your social media sites. This way, when a recruiter peruses your pages, what they will see is a person who is invested in their industry and up on the latest news. It’s a quick and easy way to show hiring managers that you are serious about your profession.
Hopefully a lot of this information won’t be brand-new news to you. But it never, ever hurts to reiterate these crucial social media cleanup steps that must be undertaken when you’re ramping up to find a new job.
About this guest author:
Since 2005, LiveCareer has been developing tools that have helped over 10 million users build stronger resumes, write persuasive cover letters, and develop better interview skills. Land the job you want faster using our free resume examples and resume templates, writing guides, and easy-to-use resume builder.