Do Potential Employers Look At My Social Media?

Do Potential Employers Look At My Social Media?

Give yourself the best possible chance while you’re on the job market. Clean up your digital foxhole and put your professional foot forward.

 

The conspiracy-obsessed staff sergeant you laughed at for refusing to join Facebook was right: They are watching. However, in this case, I’m talking about potential employers rather than the government.

I know what you’re thinking — employers are much too busy to snoop around each job applicant’s social media. But you’re wrong, at least part of the time. Google makes it so easy to do a preliminary search; you plug a name in and, bam, you can find social media handles, birthdays and pictures from when you passed out at the rodeo from your 2007 Facebook album.

In this day and age, you should expect, and prepare for hiring managers sniffing around your Internet trail.

What to Do About Your Internet Footprint

Before you seriously start job hunting, you’ll want to give yourself a social media audit. For those of you who experienced the ass pain of Inspector General inspections, you can think of it in those terms. Comb through your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, personal website, blog, Tumblr — and most importantly — your LinkedIn. Give yourself a red, amber, or green rating for each.

The evaluation criteria is professionalism. Do you have political rants peppering your Twitter or Facebook account? What are the privacy settings on each? (Hint: search for yourself while using Google in incognito mode to check.) What can the average person find out about you with a quick name search?

If you find anything that seems questionable, delete or modify it. Maybe it’s time to change your slightly offensive Instagram handle, or time to swap out your LinkedIn photo for something that represents your best self.

These are the basics for a social media tune up:

  1. For the most paranoid: Change all your personal social media pages to private and unsearchable. This Gizmodo guide can help you do a thorough job.
  1. To look your best: Update all your professional, employer-facing sites. This means making your LinkedIn professional, up-to-date, and typo-free. You can use LinkedIn to reach out to hiring managers and as a networking tool, so you want to make it as clean and detailed as possible.
  1. At the very least: Delete anything offensive, illegal, questionable, or embarrassing. For example, you might be the biggest supporter of legalizing weed, but if you’re applying for jobs in states where it isn’t allowed, that’s not something you really want to pop up in a quick Google search. It just doesn’t present you in the best possible way. This can include politics, religion, and any other touchy subject you might feel awkward discussing at a dinner table. If you don’t want a stranger to know something about you, delete it.
  1. Next level: Consider making a portfolio or website. For those joining the fields of design, media, journalism, photography software development, or other digital-based fields, consider creating a portfolio on a site such as Behance, Contently, or GitHub. In those fields, you’re expected to have a digital portfolio at minimum, and a personal website in most cases.

 

Final Word

While you may get a job offer without your employer ever even coming near to your social media, it’s better to be safe than sorry. There’s nothing worse than losing a job over something as silly as what you put out on the Internet, but it’s a very real possibility. Remember, as a whole, us humans are pretty judgmental. You never want to give someone the chance to formulate a bad opinion of you over something as dumb as a Facebook rant from 2012. Give yourself the best possible chance while you’re on the job market. Clean up your digital foxhole and put your professional foot forward.