Menu Close

Why employers look at your social media accounts

Socials searching by employers

Once upon a time, potential employers learnt about your professional experience via your resume. And perhaps via your cover letter, if you ended up including one in your job application. How times have changed! Many of you looking for work may wonder why employers look at your social media accounts. This article explores some of the most common reasons – and they are not all bad.

With the advent of digital technology, potential employers and clients can source information about you easily online, at the click of a button.

And whilst there are laws in place to protect you against discrimination during the recruitment process, you should assume that whatever information is available about you online, can and will, be accessed by anyone, at any time, from any place where a wifi connection is available.  

Why employers might look you up

There are many reasons that a potential employer or client might look you up online.

Here are just a few of those reasons:

Headhunting research

Digital platforms such as LinkedIn are prime digital sites for talent acquisition teams, hiring managers and recruitment specialists to look for talented candidates.

Various stakeholders may use key search terms to track you down in their proactive online searches or they may look you up directly if someone has mentioned your name to them in passing.

Active recruitment campaigns

During recruitment campaigns, a range of company stakeholders might look you up to learn more about you. They will likely google your name and potentially the skillset you have and see what comes up in the search.

Again, LinkedIn is a popular site for stakeholders to visit, to read about your prior work history and to get a better feel for your professional skills and training. People may even look at your presence on other social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

So, who is likely to look you up online? Hiring managers, recruitment consultants, department heads and even those team members who might end up being your colleagues. Basically, anyone involved in the recruitment process may have an interest in learning more about you, before they meet you or even talk with you.

Manager and supervisor research

Managers, supervisors and team leaders have been known to look people up online to get to know you a little better before meeting with you. They might do this before they meet with you at interview or after you have been hired.  

By doing this, various stakeholders may feel they get a better sense for “what makes you tick”, what you enjoy and how you interact with others. They may also be looking to see how involved you are in contributing to your industry sector.  

Checking on culture fit

It is disconcerting but true that your employer may well determine that you are not a good fit for their company before they even meet with you. This may be the case if they see you posting content on your social media accounts that doesn’t align with the core values and culture of their workplace.

Even though this is an unfair, unethical and biased way to make recruitment decisions, creating a professional and well curated digital footprint is the best way to protect your reputation.

Plain curiosity

Humans love to connect with other humans. And these days, you don’t need to meet someone first before you can learn a whole lot about them. Often people will look you up online before you meet to see if you have anything in common, where you went to school, how you got to where you are today plus so much more!

So, feel free to show a little of your personality of the digital platforms you use. You might end up forming a connection with someone before you even meet them.

Whilst there are many legal ramifications to consider when employers misuse information they source about you online, the truth is, it happens. And whilst employers in the end may not point to your social media usage as problematic, it can influence their opinion of you.

Given this is the case, the next section of this article covers what you can do to maintain a professional profile that is fit for the eyes of your friends, foes and everyone in between.  

How to maintain a professional digital profile

Spend some time thinking how you want to be perceived professionally. In turn think about the sort of content you would like people to read about you online (and the sort of content you’d prefer isn’t loaded up on the internet for the world to see!!).

You are in the enviable position of being able to actively curate your online profile. Make the most of that opportunity.

Employers know that you have a life outside of work. Create a balance of both professional and social information as part of your digital footprint.

When thinking about your online profile, it’s best to avoid the following:

  1. Posting any content that suggests you behave unprofessionally in any way
  2. Talking about your employer in a negative or derogatory way
  3. Posting anything that gives the impression you have any involvement in or support of criminal activity
  4. Excessive drunkenness or other anti-social behaviour. ‘Nough said
  5. Creating content with poor writing skills. Most jobs will require you to communicate with someone, at some stage in your career – fellow team members, customers, strategic partners, the general public etc
  6. Excessive use of “text speak” or content that doesn’t show clear thought, reasoning or care for others

More hints and tips for preserving your online reputation

Tip 1. Google yourself once a month and see what comes up on Page 1. Better yet, Google “incognito” or get someone else to google you. Google likes to show you content that it thinks is relevant to you. So the results you get may be skewed when you search from the computer or mobile device you use every day.

Tip 2. Set up a Google Alert based on your name. That way you can see when people are talking about you online.

Tip 3. Join the key social media sites where people in your industry hang out virtually. Be part of the conversation rather than a topic of conversation.

Tip 4. Develop a personal digital media strategy to curate a highly professional digital profile

Strategies for dealing with compromising or damaging information

Obviously, the best way to avoiding a compromising situation is to steer clear of posting dubious content in the first place. Sometimes however, other people can tag you in photographs and posts on social media platforms without you even knowing it.

When this happens, reach out to that person and respectfully ask them to untag you or remove content if it shows you in a compromising manner. Of course, if someone refuses to do this, there is no way for you to erase that content yourself. You will just need to hope that those in your professional network don’t come across it at any stage.

A constructive strategy to consistently create new, positive and professional content to grow your digital profile is the best way to combat any negative content posted by others.

Practical Social Media Checklist

Ready to spring clean your social media presence to create a more positive digital footprint?

Here is a practical checklist to get you started:

  • Google yourself:
    • See what appears on Page 1
    • See what appears on other pages as well
  • Don’t just look for what content IS on Page 1, look for what content ISN’T there. This will help you work out where you need to focus your efforts in building your digital brand   
  • Lock down personal social media accounts if you don’t want potential employers or clients to look at those accounts
  • Remove photos you wouldn’t want anyone to see (a good test is to think “if this was on a billboard on the side of the road for all to see, would I be OK with that?”)
  • Get in touch with those who’ve put up photos of you that you are not comfortable with and ask them to remove the photos (a word of warning – by asking for photos to be removed, you cannot be sure that others haven’t taken copies or shared that image with others in their personal and professional networks)
  • Review each of your social media accounts. Ask yourself “Is it set up professionally?”. If not, make changes so the accounts have a more professional feel to them  
  • Check spelling and grammar across all of your social media accounts
  • Update any biography content on each account to read professionally and articulately  
  • Make sure you haven’t made political or discriminatory comments on any social media platforms. These can negatively impact your professional reputation. Remove any comments you may have made in the past that you are not proud of
  • Set up a Google alert for your name. Keep track of what people are saying about you online
  • Contribute to digital networking channels such as LinkedIn regularly, to demonstrate your commitment to your profession

Be prepared

We live in a digital world. That means that people can and will use online channels to learn more about you. Make sure that when they come looking, they like what they see. Clean up your social media accounts to ensure you make the very best impression possible.

Use privacy settings to lock down your personal social media accounts if you don’t want strangers to pry. But ensure you also create quality publicly available information about yourself online too, using digital networking tools such as LinkedIn.

Your career can benefit greatly from our digital age. Curate content, contribute meaningfully and connect with other like minded people – the opportunities that come your way and the career you build will be your reward.

Want to learn how you can build a professional digital profile and build the career of your dreams? Connect with me on my socials for hints, tips and practical ideas for building your professional reputation and the career of your dreams.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *