It is no secret that social media has become almost essential in the twenty first century, with multiple platforms all competing for more users. Each platform offers a unique way to interact with friends, but more importantly, a specialized way to represent yourself.
While most people are concerned with the way that they appear to their friends through social media, they often forget to consider who else might be looking at their profile. Statistics show that 68% of future employers look at a candidate’s social media profiles before hiring them. However, not nearly as many candidates say that they view social media as important when entering the job hunt. In this day and age an employee should put as much thought into their social media accounts as they do a resume, if not more.
Let’s Look at the Statistics
With roughly two thirds of American adults using social media nowadays, it makes sense as to why employers are turning to social media for more information on potential work candidates.
- 77% of employers have admitted to hiring through a social media platform.
- 65% of employers will search an applicant’s name online.
- 46% of employers check the applicant’s Facebook page.
- 33% of employers check the applicant’s Twitter page.
- 29% of employers check the applicant’s blog.
But What are These Employers Looking For?
You are probably wondering what exactly the purpose of looking at a person’s online profile could be. Most employers admit that their media search of applicants is mainly just to ensure that there are no obvious red flags. They are also looking to see how professional candidates are in their posting, and determining whether that candidate will fit into the workplace culture.
Another main reason they check online accounts is to verify that all of the information on a resume is actually true. This why it is important to keep online profiles updated and truthful.
Break it Down; What are Specific Platforms For?
Developed for professionals, this network offers a free service for people to showcase past and present work experience, and interests. Users can be seen by hiring employers and contacted for more information. This platform is for professional use only, anything outside of that will plummet any online reputation you once had.
This is one of the most well known platforms, and an all encompassing platform. Facebook allows users to show their friends things they do on the daily with pictures, posts, articles, and videos. Some posts and pictures may be monitored by Facebook, but there are still plenty of ways to ruin your online reputation through Facebook, so be highly aware of what you are posting.
The growing popularity of Twitter is making it more useful to users. Despite a character limit of 140 characters, this network encourages easy interaction more than any other social media platform. However, practically anything can be said within those 140 characters, so it is an easy place to get yourself in trouble if you are not careful.
Don’t Have Social Media?
We get it, some people prefer to not be present on social media for privacy and/or personal reasons. However, this can actually be more harmful for those applying for jobs; employers don’t favor candidates they can’t find.
In many ways this can be seen as a sign of a candidate’s lack of communication skills, and in extreme cases reflects on emotional health. It also is hard to stay off of media when applying to certain jobs that thrive off of networking. It is more beneficial to have a sparse profile with limited information rather than not having an account at all.
Eight Tips For Hire
When it comes to actually combing through your accounts, the task can seem daunting. Take a deep breath and take a look at these tips to help you get your platforms ready for your interview.
- Google Yourself
Googling your name will give you the right base to start cleaning up your image online. That obscure blog from high school is sure to pop up, as well as some not so flattering posts you were tagged in at that one party. Be sure to take note of what you are not familiar with that pops up with your name, since employers will see this as well.
- Choose Carefully
This applies to handles, usernames, and even your email address. Make sure that the name is appropriate for a work environment and doesn’t contain any vulgarities or cause offense. If possible, try to keep each one as close to your name as possible so it is easily recognized.
- Remove Photos and Posts
Go through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and remove any photos or posts that would not be suitable for your employer to see. Don’t be afraid of your past, but also don’t keep photos or posts that show things you would be embarrassed to tell a boss about. Pay close attention to the photos that you have been tagged in; don’t hesitate to remove the tag, or ask a friend to take the photo down if need be.
- Clean Up Likes and Friends
Remember when you first setup your Facebook and you liked those one hundred plus pages? It would be a good idea to go and remove most of those, they often times come off as unprofessional and immature. It may also be beneficial to think about going through your friends list and removing all of those acquaintances that you never truly talked to anyway.
- Showcase You
Don’t forget to look at your profile picture. This is a person’s first impression on social media; be careful to not have a default image, an image that is not actually a picture of you, or anything inappropriate. All of these choices can come off as lazy and/or unprofessional. Avoid blurry, distasteful, or group images. Your profile picture should clearly depict you so an employer can recognize you.
- Set Privacies
Privacy preferences differ from person to person, but are still a topic to discuss. If you hide your profile, be ready to accept the friend request of your future employer as they will still want to view your page. One privacy setting that most people don’t know about is the option to review tags before they are posted to your profile page. This is a great tool to ensure that your social media stays clean, and no surprises pop up one day.
- Keep it Updated
It may seem trivial to mention, but having a current and constant flow of information on a social media platform shows work ethic and self awareness. Employers like to be able to look at social profiles and see that you keep tabs on the information that is being circulated. What they don’t like is coming across a Facebook page that has not been updated since eighth grade, it comes off as detached, almost as bad as not having a profile at all.
- Interact Locally
This tip is a little above and beyond, but pays off in the end. Try to follow people who are in the field you are looking into joining. Twitter is a great place to interact with people and companies, and hear back from them. Also think about posting articles related to your field; an employer will then be able to see your dedication and interest in their field, which can help you stand out among other applicants.
Turn to Google
When Googling your name, you may run into some issues. Even with a less common name, there are guaranteed to be other people with your name popping up in search results. What matters most is what ends up shown on the first page of results.
- Use your first and last name.
- You can even try your middle name as well.
- Use parenthesis around your name to ensure that what shows up is actually what you searched for.
- Now try looking up your name along with your birthplace and/or current city.
- Another common thing for employers to type into a search engine is your email, so check that search too.
So What is Okay to Post?
Now that your pages have been cleansed, let’s talk about the dos and don’ts of posting. In most cases it is pretty black and white as to whether a post should actually be put on the internet.
Don’t Forget About These!
While most employers will only check your main profiles (Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin) it is still a good idea to go through your other accounts and make sure they are up to par with the rest of your platforms.
- Instagram, Flickr, and VSCO: Solely for pictures, make sure that what you post and what you like is all appropriate and matches the image created on other accounts.
- Pinterest: Be sure that what you pin doesn’t contain, or link to, anything offensive. Also make a note to check the captions on the photos pinned, sometimes the previous pinner has written their own comments instead of a description.
- Tumblr: Proceed with caution when following certain accounts; they may post about content that you didn’t initially realize.
- Youtube: With this video sharing site, remember to also check what others can see; can the public see your playlists, liked videos, and even history?
If You Have a Problem
Say an employer brings up something questionable they came across while looking into your online presence. Don’t stress. Remain calm and take a deep breath. Do not deny what happened, instead explain what took place in the photo, or the circumstances surrounding the heated post. Obviously, don’t disclose dirty details that blame others for what happened. It is important in these moments to put a positive spin on the post in question. Look at what happened and find a way to showcase your strengths.
Being aware of your reputation through media shouldn’t end as soon as you land a job; it should be a lifelong process. It is a good practice to get in the habit of, but you also never know who might look at your profile. The average American goes through about ten jobs before they turn forty. That being said, future employers may come across your profile before you have a chance to clean up the content, so keep yourself one step ahead, always.