social_media_forgeThe Social Recruiting 2014 Survey found that 93% of managers review a candidate’s social media before making a hiring decision. Often, they do so even before even going into the interview. In fact, 55% of the surveyed recruiters said that they reconsidered at least one candidate based on their social profile.

Furthermore, social recruiting is growing rapidly, especially on LinkedIn and Facebook. This means that social media isn’t just being glanced at. It’s being actively used to recruit, interview, and consider applicants.

With a growing importance of social media in today’s business world, what can you do to keep your social networking profiles employer-friendly?

Note: In this article, we will primarily focus on your personal accounts. However, for some professions, it might be a smart decision to also make a separate professional social media account. This account can be used as a way of promoting yourself to potential hirers and clients.

True or False: Employers don’t actually look at your social media before hiring.

False. As mentioned earlier, almost all recruiters look at a candidate’s social media. Even if it’s not considered a part of the formal hiring process, chances are high that the hiring manager will use your social media page to get an idea of the person they will be talking to. They may look you up to see what you look like if you’re meeting at a coffee shop (to minimize the awkwardness of not knowing who to look for). Or maybe they’re taking a look to see your favorite sports teams as a way to make you comfortable.

No matter their reason for looking, employers are definitely looking.


True or False: Employers have special software that scans your page.

True. There are rumors always floating about how large companies can quickly scan your social profiles to find inappropriate pictures and posts—even those that have previously been deleted or are labeled “private”. This software does exist, but it’s not as common as you think. However, you never know what a employer can find. The Internet remembers and holds everything.

True or False: It’s illegal to fire you because of something you wrote on social media.

True and false. It can be legal to fire you if you are caught in a series of lies, breaking a non-disclosure agreement, or using language that violate company policy.

For example, if you call out for a “family emergency” and your boss sees you posting pictures on the beach, they could have probable cause to fire you if it shows a pattern of dishonest behavior.

If you signed an NDA that says you will not talk about a specific project, posting even a hint about that project could get you fired. For example, a police officer posted on Facebook his condolences regarding a man who died in the hospital after an attack—before the victim’s family was even notified.

If you posted a racial slur against a customer or coworker, you could be fired for creating a hostile work environment.

Your boss generally can’t fire you just because you Tweeted “my boss is a jerk.” However, it’s still not a great look, and doesn’t bode well for your future with the company.


How To Keep Your Social Media Employer-Friendly

  1. Nothing illegal, sexual, discriminatory, or offensive.

Although it seems obvious, even slight offenses can hurt your ability to get hired or keep a job. 2/3 of hiring managers say that discrimination, discussion of drugs, or sexual pictures will ensure you won’t get hired. A little over half say that using provocative or inappropriate language is also a significant deterrent. You want to show you are both professional and kind.

However, there may be one or two exceptions. For example, pictures with alcohol are generally viewed negatively (even if you are of legal age). However, if you are working for a high-end restaurant, a picture of you at a winery will likely not cause any issues since it is relevant to your job and hobbies.

Think about your audience and use your common sense. If you wouldn’t say it or show it to your boss’ face (or to the CEO’s face), don’t post it on social media.

  1. Curb the negativity.

Social media has recently become a platform where many individuals share their religious, political, and social views. While you shouldn’t stop sharing your beliefs, it’s generally a good idea to restrain from posting outwardly controversial content. Remember that anything you post on your wall is “yours,” even if you didn’t write it.

Also, curb the negativity about your old or current workplace. A potential employer might see this negativity as a flaw in your character—not as a flaw in your old job. They will assume that you will also bad mouth their company if they were to hire you. Typically, they’ll move on to the next candidate.

  1. Turn on Timeline Review.

Of course you should always watch what you post, but even more importantly you need to monitor what your friends are posting of you. A picture of you dancing on the tables seems funny to your friend…but maybe not so funny to your boss who found you snoozing at your desk the next day. Turn on your Timeline Review in settings for Facebook, so you can always accept or deny tags before they show up on your page.

  1. Update your privacy settings.

Don’t go 100% hidden to the public. If your entire page is not viewable, it will look suspicious to potential employers. Instead, update your privacy settings so that only certain aspects are visible to “everyone” and “friends of friends.” Make sure that everything visible (and invisible) is appropriate.

  1. Edit your bio.

Show off your personality. Even if you aren’t necessarily using your page as a self-marketing tool, you can connect with potential employers by showing them your interests. Think of social media as your personal brand. What message are you trying to get across to your friends as well as to your acquaintances, coworkers, and potential employers?

Edit your bio to present yourself in the best possible light. Things to include are favorite quotes, relevant or unique hobbies, favorite sports teams, aspirations, and other things that define “you.”

  1. Keep up with your industry.

In the same way, posting relevant articles or following related organizations can show your interest in the field. For example, if you are working in the restaurant business, you might post an article about the recent upsurge in high-end fast food chains. This shows a genuine interest that is a positive trait in a potential trait.

  1. Connect with individuals in your industry.

This also shows a sincere interest in the field, and it will help keep you up to date on your business. Connecting with people in your industry can also lead to potential jobs down the road. Connect with influencers, old bosses, potential bosses, references and partners. But of course, if you connect with all of these people on your personal social media page—make sure it’s squeaky clean.

  1. Add your job.

Putting your current employer in the “work” field on Facebook and LinkedIn shows you are proud of what you do. It also shows that you aren’t hiding anything about your work experience or résumé.

  1. Check grammar and spelling.

It may seem trivial, but it goes a long way—even on social media.


The Bottom Line

The best tip? Connect with family members on social media. Generally, if you know your grandma is watching, you’re more likely to keep everything appropriate and professional.

What comes up when you Google yourself? Are you proud of what you see? Would you be proud if the Queen of England saw it?

Use the above 9 tips to present your social media to current and prospective employers to exhibit the personal brand that will get you noticed and hired!