(Because 90% are looking you up)
When you apply for a job, it’s expected that a hiring manager will review your resume or online job profile. But 90% of them also look you up on social media. That’s a number worth paying attention to.
You may be asking yourself, “Sure, but are they really paying attention? Does it really matter? How can social media stop me from getting a job?” Well, almost 4 out of 5 hiring managers have rejected a candidate because of something they came across on those sites!
We’ve covered how to use social media to network for a job, but if the thought of a recruiter going through your accounts makes you shudder, we have a plan to make sure those long-forgotten spring break photos don’t come back to haunt you.
Take an Inventory of Your Digital Identity
Find out what recruiters are seeing in your search results.
Google isn’t a social network, but it is the place where 43% of HR professionals will look for you. Knowing what results pop up (including your social media profiles) will give you direction on what steps to take. Before you search, switch into private browsing mode so your results aren’t influenced by your past searches. (Switch to Incognito mode in Google Chrome, select New Private Window in Apple Safari and Firefox, or select InPrivate when using Microsoft Edge.)
Search your name and review the main results. Then look at the what Google pulls up under images, videos, and news, to get a full sense of what a recruiter may potentially see. The more you know, the more you can prepare for questions that may come up. Stay on top of new information by creating a Google Alert, which will message you each time Google indexes something with your name.
Create a Personal Website
Improve your search results and highlight the information you want hiring managers to see.
One of the best ways to improve your search results, and your chances of getting noticed by recruiters, is to create a personal website. In fact, 80% of employers think that having a site presence is important. A website can help you spread the message you want to share with employers, and drive them to the places (social media profiles, articles, projects, etc.) you want them to see. Once you have one, include the link in your resume and ZipRecruiter profile.
How Do Employers Search Social Media?
Recruiters use many different social platforms to learn about you.
While LinkedIn is considered the professional social network, it is not the site that HR professionals use most when researching candidates. That honor goes to Facebook, where 74% of recruiters look up their potential hires. LinkedIn (56%), Instagram (49%), and Twitter (45%) follow. TikTok is currently around 12%, but will likely increase as its audience continues to grow.
Despite these numbers, LinkedIn is the one social media site you must update and make public. Be sure that it is up to date, has an appropriate profile photo, and lists the same details as your resume. Use the additional sections, like the headline and ‘about’ area to highlight your personality and give more details about your accomplishments, passions, and goals. Then, share relevant posts—and comment on others—to show you are engaged with your industry.
Next, it’s time to think about how you want to present yourself on other social networks. With most HR professionals turning to Facebook, and almost half reviewing candidates on Instagram and Twitter, setting your account to private may be a good idea.
Consider Going Private
Setting your accounts to private is the best way to make sure recruiters don’t see them.
Privacy settings are your friends. Or, better yet, privacy settings make sure your profiles can only be seen by your friends. For the social networks mentioned above, and any others you may use, the easiest way to make sure hiring managers don’t find your content is to hide it. Employers can’t see what they can’t find.
Almost all recruiters say they would still interview a candidate if they could not find them online. Most social networks default accounts to being public, so visit the settings to make the change. Whatever your settings may be, profile pictures are usually visible to the public, and often appear in Google search results, so make sure you are comfortable with it being seen by a potential employer.
Treat Your Public Social Media Pages Like the Office Breakroom
If you wouldn’t say it here, don’t say it out there.
Many people want to keep their social media accounts public. If you decide to do so, it is a good idea to go back and look at every post, image, video, and comment and decide whether to keep it public. Don’t know if you should delete something? Think about whether it would be appropriate to say or show to colleagues in the office breakroom. These topics may change depending on the industry you work in, so give it some thought.
Topics that have led recruiters to deny candidates include: hate speech, heavy partying, drug use, illegal or illicit content, and confidential or sensitive comments about a former employer. You may also want to consider shying away from politics, health issues, and conspiracy theories. Using inappropriate language, poor grammar, and bad spelling could also hurt your professional opportunities.
It’s Time for a Social Media Cleanup
Review your social media accounts to remove potential red flags.
As you go through your profiles, go through this checklist:
- Bios: Most social networks provide a space to share a bit about yourself. Mention your employer or industry along with your other hobbies and passions.
- Profile Pictures: Unlike LinkedIn, other social platforms are a place where being more casual is appropriate and expected. Just make sure the images don’t show anything that may be a red flag to employers.
- Posts, Photos & Videos: Review all of the content you have posted—yes, all the way back to your first post—and decide what should stay. Some platforms, like Instagram and Facebook, enable you to archive or set individual posts to private. For others, like Twitter, you’ll need to delete whatever you don’t want seen. You can also untag yourself from photos posted by others if needed.
Moving forward, share posts that highlight your interests, hobbies, and creativity. Hiring managers are looking for well-rounded employees who will fit in with company culture, so think about the types of posts that would align. (Reviewing your target companies’ profiles may provide some hints.) Lastly, anything that shows excitement for your work—photos from conferences and meetups, sharing industry-related articles, commenting on posts about hot topics of the day—will build your credibility.
- Usernames & URLS: Consider whether your current profile’s username or personalized url reflects the way you’d like to present yourself to the professional world. If not, you can change them.
- Likes & Follows: Go through the people, companies, and brands you follow and decide if they still align with your interests and goals. It may seem nit-picky, but a quarter of recruiters get this granular. Remove the accounts that are no longer relevant, and replace them with your target companies and leaders in your field.
Share Your Whole Self
Keep using social media to put your knowledge and personality on display.
Now that your social profiles are work-search ready, stay active on them. Share thoughts and articles on industry-related topics, but make sure to let your passions, hobbies, and personality shine through so hiring managers know the whole person they may be hiring.
In short, be the person that you’d like to work with!