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Will an employer check my social media accounts before hiring?

If you are wondering whether prospective employers and clients will look at your social media accounts at some stage before they hire you, the answer is most likely YES.

Employers and clients are often interested in how you use social media accounts to interact with others in your industry, build relationships and express your creativity.

And what’s more, they can find this out at the click of a button on their search engine of choice. If you don’t believe how easy it is, Google yourself right now. I bet you will find information about yourself on page 1 or 2.

What does this mean for you and your social media profiles? Let’s explore that right here.

Be active on social media

Prospective employers and clients like to see that you engage with those around you on social media. They want to see you participating in relevant online groups and they care about the type of content you share and comment on.

So, be active on whatever social media accounts you have set up. Take the time to “like”, respond to and support others in your sector. This helps to showcase the type of contributions you’d bring to a company.

Of course, you should keep your commentary professional and make sure you’re adding valuable points when you make contributions. Don’t just contribute to be seen – actually add content to meaningfully and intelligently add to the online conversation.

Don’t chase followers for the sake of it

Whilst the name of the game for Instagram influencers is to gather as many followers as humanly possible, this is not the case to be an attractive candidate to prospective employers and clients.

You don’t need thousands of followers on your social media accounts to be a preferred candidate. But you do need to make sure you’re using your social media accounts to connect with influencers, industry leaders, organizations and publications in your field or industry.

Show a little personality

Commit to your online brand building with some personality. Even though you might not be active every day, it’s useful to use your social media channels to post, share and contribute in smart, funny, insightful, interesting or creative ways.

Recruitment teams, talent acquisition specialists and hiring managers want to see how creative, innovative and original you are in what you do online. How you choose to use the latest networking tools and technologies says a lot about how social, savvy and skilled you are.

Social media faux pars to avoid

If you would like to be a candidate of choice at some stage in your career, here are some things you should avoid on your social media accounts.

Inactive social media accounts

It’s probably best to delete any social media accounts that you don’t use much. Or set them to private. That way people aren’t going to wonder why you haven’t posted for a while – even though it might just be because you are taking a digital sabbatical.

In a professional sense, just having a social media account is not enough – you need to be active on it and know how to engage with your audience. Social media is your chance to showcase your ability to network, engage with others and curate content. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste.

Poor presentation and messaging

A poorly presented Facebook page or a half finished LinkedIn profile could have an impact on those assessing you for a work opportunity. Make sure that your profile information is fully completed and that you have consistent information about your capabilities on each social media platform.

Clients don’t expect your Facebook account to be client focused but they will expect your LinkedIn profile to be highly professional and more industry oriented. Take the time to complete your LinkedIn profile in full to optimise your online visibility.

70% of employers in 2017 used social media to screen candidates, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

Prospective employers and clients will be looking to make sure that your social media platforms reflect the same kind of statements as your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile.

Inconsistency across platforms may have them assuming that you are simply “selling” a story in your professional work documents (Resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile), if they don’t align with the overall feel of your other social media accounts.

Photo curation

When in doubt, don’t post it. That should be your mantra when deciding whether or not to post compromising photos on any of your social media accounts. Do not have ANY photos on your social media accounts that show you involved in anything “compromising”.

Employers screen out candidates for what they deem as inappropriate online behaviour. This shouldn’t need any further explanation, but it may require you to head to your social media account RIGHT NOW to delete any past photos that are well, compromising, in any way.

What employers don’t want to see

Check out these fairly compelling findings from Workopolis when it comes to what employers say they least want to see in candidate social profiles:

  • 83% of employers say they are turned off by references about using illegal drugs
  • 71% are turned off by posts of a sexual nature
  • 65% are turned off by use of profanity
  • 61% are turned off by bad spelling or grammar
  • 51% are turned off by references to guns, and
  • 47% are turned off by photos of consuming alcohol

Interestingly, displaying poor grammar and spelling online appears to be more detrimental to your prospects than guns or alcohol.

Remember though – there is quite a large difference between a picture of someone making a toast with a glass of wine versus being passed out on the floor. Use some common sense. That’s what employers want to see.

What the law says about looking at your social media accounts

OK. So, whilst prospective employers and clients aren’t necessarily supposed to judge you on the basis of your social media accounts, don’t discount the fact that they might.

In saying that, it is illegal for employers to ask you to hand over your usernames and passwords to private social media accounts. Likewise, you cannot be forced to pull up your social media accounts during an interview or tell the employer about the contents of your social media pages. 

Tidy up time?

If you are about to embark on a job search, consider whether you need to clean up your online social media act. Of course, with cached sites and historical searches, you can’t entirely undo your past posts. But take a close look at your publicly accessible information and make sure it’s ready for general consumption.

Check for personal information

A simple Google search can reveal a lot about you, including your phone number, address, email, location, and any photos of yourself.  

Always do an incognito search

Using a private browsing window when you search yourself is particularly important because this allows you to see unbiased results that aren’t affected by your previous searches, logged in services, or other personalization factors that Google implements.

Personalized searching is useful when it comes to searching for relevant products or services, but when preparing for a job interview, you want to see through the eyes of a hiring manager and have unbiased search results.

Set a Google alert for your name

If you set up a Google alert for your name, every time your name comes up in a Google search result, you will be notified right away by email.

Profile pic appropriateness

One of the first things a hiring manager will see on your social media profiles is your photo. Having a good profile photo will not only increase your response and referral rates, but also a way to build your personal brand.

Research shows that an effective profile photo is crucial for making yourself look competent, likeable, and influential.

If you find that going through all your old Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram posts is time-consuming, Scrubber Social is a handy tool that show you any posts that may be a red flag to employers.

Nothing to see here!

Consider using privacy settings on your social media accounts. If you have information or material you want to leave up but don’t want employers or clients to see, at least put it behind a privacy wall of sorts and set your account to private.

Limit your privacy settings so that only your approved friends can see it. If others have posted photos that might represent you in any way negatively, ask the poster to remove it. If that doesn’t work, you can at least untag yourself in any photos that you don’t want potential employers or clients to stumble across.

Take pride in the story you tell on social media

We live in a highly connected digital world. And with that, comes expanded opportunities and personal brand reach. Make the most of this by curating your personal and professional story online via your social media accounts.

You have the opportunity to build a personal brand story that is dynamic, interesting, entertaining and engaged. Enjoy building an online story you are proud of and prospective employers and clients will sit up and take notice…for all the right reasons.

Need to clean up your social media accounts to prepare for a job search? I can help. Get in touch here.

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