3 Ways to Ensure Your Social Media Presence Doesn’t Sabotage Your Job Search
If you’re on social media and happen to be searching for a new job, chances are any potential employer will browse through your online profiles to get a better idea of who you are. That’s common practice for hiring managers in today’s digital world as social media offers a unique glimpse into a potential employee’s personality and attitude. It’s up to you to make sure that your online presence doesn’t ruin your chances of landing your dream job.
We’ve all heard stories of people saying horrible things on social media and getting fired for it. These days, companies are extra cautious about what their employees post on the internet—they want to avoid the bad press from high-profile controversies, so hiring managers try to filter out candidates who may pose such a risk.
Some jobs require having a large social media following, so it’s understandable that the employer would want to know what kind of content you’re posting and how you interact with your audience. Either way, it’s a good idea to take an objective look at what your social media profiles say about you before you start sending out job applications. If the verdict is unfavorable, take the time to clean up your profiles before you launch the job search—otherwise, you may be jeopardizing your chances of success.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to spruce up the one social network that’s all about careers: LinkedIn. A presence on this platform is all but mandatory for the modern-day job seeker, and if you don’t have an account there, you’re missing out on a ton of professional opportunities. If you’re more of a TikTok or Instagram person, don’t worry—our team of experts can write or overhaul your LinkedIn profile so it looks more professional and ranks higher in search engine results, thus attracting more views from potential employers.
However, it’s not just about polishing your LinkedIn profile—cleaning up your personal social media is even more important when you’re looking for a new job. So, how can you make sure your social media profiles don’t sabotage your job search?
1. Update your profile picture
The first thing someone checking out your social media looks at is your profile picture, so make it a good one. A simple portrait shot in natural light against a neutral background is usually the best way to go as long as it doesn’t look generic or forced—your personality should still shine through. On LinkedIn, you definitely want to opt for this professional-looking type of shot—anything else is likely to leave a hiring manager with a poor impression of you.
There’s more leeway on your personal social media because employers understand it isn’t necessarily meant for corporate eyes. If you use a typical professional headshot as your profile picture there, you risk coming across as stiff and fake since that isn’t generally how people look in private life. You want a recent photo that clearly shows your face (and yours alone—don’t post a group shot) and is appropriate for any audience.
Make sure that there’s nothing offensive written on your clothes and that you’re actually wearing clothes (no bathing suit pics). Be mindful of your facial expressions and hand gestures, and always check the background for anything weird or regrettable lurking in the corner of your photo. Take a good look at any potential profile picture and consider what impression it might make on a stranger. Once you’ve got the right picture, upload it to all your public profiles so your online presence feels consistent. However, your profile picture on LinkedIn can be different—it’s okay to draw a distinction between LinkedIn and your personal social media profiles.
2. Always think before posting
The second thing people will look at is your content. Your profile picture makes the first impression, but it’s your posts that tell your audience who you are, so think carefully before you post anything that can make you look bad to a potential employer. In fact, scroll down and do a deep dive on your profile—are there any posts you wouldn’t want your future boss to see? Is there anything you’d rather not have to explain? Are you posting on controversial topics such as politics and religion? Do you have any “bad takes” that could blow up into a controversy? Don’t be shy about hitting the delete button on any content that might seem unprofessional or otherwise paint you in a negative light.
Additionally, consider the general impression of you created by your posts. Does your social media make you look charming and witty? Do you come off as competent and intelligent? Does your profile radiate positivity? Are you posting about boring, mundane things? Are you oversharing? Are your posts angry, bitter, or mean-spirited? Click the delete button as often as necessary to polish your profiles.
Through all this, remember that it isn’t about censoring yourself but about the public persona you’re presenting online and whether that person is both a faithful representation of who you are in real life and someone an employer would want to be associated with.
3. Audit your network
Who are you following? Who’s following you? Most recruiters won’t just take a quick look at your profile and move on—they’ll also check who’s in your network, how you interact with them, and what they say about you. From tagged posts to comments and likes, every move you make on social media can be traced, so be very conscious of how you use it and how your online interactions can be interpreted. You’ll also want to check any pictures you’re tagged in and remove the tag if you don’t want them showing up on your profile—hiring managers don’t generally take kindly to wild party pics, for example.
It might seem unfair that a potential employer could toss out your application because of who follows you on social media, but companies are trying to protect their own interests and avoid controversies. You don’t want any red flags scaring them off before they’ve even met you, so make sure your online image is a positive one.
As with every other step in the job-seeking process, you want to be honest about who you are, what skills you possess, and what you can bring to the table, but that doesn’t mean sharing every moment of your life online. Aim to present yourself as a real, authentic person, yet make sure you’re also seen as a professional—you need to strike that balance in your online presence. Again, it might feel unfair that you have to curate your personal social media interactions for the sake of hiring managers, but such is the nature of public profiles.
If the thought of scrubbing your social media feels like torture, create new professional accounts and make your personal profiles private to avoid any awkwardness or unexpected negative consequences down the line. Many people keep their social media profiles private, so it’s not a red flag to a hiring manager if yours aren’t publicly available. However, creating new professional accounts can be a great way to showcase positive aspects of your personality to potential employers. Keep being you but be conscious of how you portray yourself online.
To learn more about all the different ways in which we can help boost your career, check out our services for job success and take the next big step in your professional life.