Q. I am about to start up my job search, but I have heard a lot of talk about companies screening applicants’ social media accounts. Do hiring managers really look at everything? What can I do to make sure my social media accounts don’t put me at a disadvantage?
A. Most companies review an applicant’s social media platforms and they have access to way more than you think. Surveying potential hires’ social media profiles is another way for firms to screen candidates and see if they will fit into the company’s culture. In order to ensure that firms do not eliminate you as a candidate, follow these basic practices for providing the best presentation possible of who you are on social media.
- Ask yourself: Can I explain the content I am posting on my social media platforms to an interviewer? If there is even the slightest hint of hesitation when answering this question, then it is advisable to remove the content from your profile.
- Keep your political affiliation to yourself. A recent survey revealed that 1 in 6 recruiters considered it a negative when an applicant shared his or her political preferences on social media.
- Remove any content that could be considered provocative. 46% of hiring managers revealed that they have passed on candidates who posted suggestive photos or statuses on their social media platforms. Remember, many hiring managers are looking for a way to eliminate candidates from the hiring pool, and you don’t want to make it easy.
- 40% of hiring managers have passed on candidates who have posted content of them drinking or doing drugs—this content should be removed from your profile. Many people post pictures from parties, but make sure they do not feature alcohol or drugs. Red solo cups are not fooling anyone either.
- Check your spelling. Most people would agree that social media platforms are relatively casual; however, 30% of hiring managers have passed on an applicant because he or she showed “poor communication skills online.”
- Follow the firms that you have applied to. Like them on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn if possible. Hiring managers will appreciate that you have taken an interest in their business—you might also learn some valuable insights about the business to be used as talking points in interviews.
- Become an expert on the privacy options on the platforms you use. Most social media sites allow users to hide content from those who are not friends. After exercising some of the privacy options, Google your name and see what comes up. As a general rule of thumb it is recommended to keep all social media platforms private.
Plan on your social media sites being reviewed. Does it highlight the best you possible for employment opportunities? This does not mean you should be afraid to use social media—just be sure to take the right measures to ensure that your profiles are crystal clean.