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How to clean up your social media for the job search

Dive In
  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Bromstein

Most managers check you out online and that could cost you opportunities. Here’s how to clean up your social media to get the job.

Your social media presence may be costing you job opportunities. You might want to do an audit and clean things up.

This should go without saying but employers are checking out your social media profiles during the hiring process. Recent research corroborates previous research suggesting this is just the way things are now. A majority of employers now screen candidates’ social media profiles to get a 3D perspective.

A new Harris poll that found nearly seven in 10 Canadian hiring decision-makers say looking at a candidate’s social media profiles is an effective way to screen applicants. Sixty-eight per cent believe employers should screen all applicants’ social media profiles, while 65% say they use social networking sites to research potential job candidates. Two in five say they do so for every candidate or most candidates (I’d have thought it would be more than that). Seventy-seven per cent of Canadian hiring decision-makers believe employees should maintain a “work-appropriate” social media presence and, of those who use social networking to research candidates, 52% have found content on a social networking site that caused them not to hire a candidate. That’s more than half.

Are you comfortable with what hiring managers will find if they screen your profiles? If not, take some time to fix thing. Here’s how to clean up your social media.

Ask yourself what an employer is going to want to see. It’s not a difficult question to answer. Employers want to find someone who is friendly, active, engaged, likeable, and smart. They don’t want to find someone who is mean spirited, gets into dumb online arguments, gets drunk all the time, or has questionable judgement (drunk + naked = bad, for example). Your project, therefore, is to create the online presence you want employers to find.

Do an audit of all your accounts. What social media accounts do you have? Take a look at them. Are some of the unused? Are they all up to date? Was your last tweet sent in 2016? It’s time to make some decisions.

Google yourself. What comes up when you Google yourself? Is it what you want to see? Is there unflattering content on your own pages or in comments you’ve made on other people’s blogs or posts? You’re going to want to clean this stuff up.

Decide what pages you’re keeping. If you have social media you don’t use, consider deleting it. I know this is hard, because you think you’ll get around to using it later, but will you? Only you know. You can temporarily deactivate some platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This means nobody will be able to find you until you reactivate. The length of time you can do this for and amount of times you can to it vary. So, check each platform for guidelines.

Review old blogs. If you keep a personal blog or post articles on available platforms, like LinkedIn, go through this content to see if it’s representative of who you are and how you want to be perceived right now.

Delete old, questionable content. Start hitting the delete button. Get rid of anything an employer might find that would put them off hiring you. Wired has some tips on how to do this. When in doubt, get rid of it. Things to delete include: provocative content; content that includes illegal activity; rude or mean-spirited posts or comments; content in which you’re trash talking other people; nine out of 10 selfies.

Update everything and create some recent posts. Bring your profiles up to date. Add recent information, photos, and posts. If you’ve been unable to remove any unflattering content, for example because it’s on a site you don’t own or control, you can try to bury it with good content. Updating your social profiles and blog and optimizing your pages for SEO can help push negative results down in search results. Create the online presence you want employers to find. Create posts that demonstrates intelligence, integrity, kindness, and professionalism.

Review your privacy settings. Check that your settings are as you want them to be and you’re not blasting information to the wrong people or hiding it from the right ones. As for hiding from employers, privacy settings can only help so much. If a hiring manager is a friend of a friend they might be able to look at your profile even if you have set then to be visible to only friends – and considering how small the world really is, this is a real possibility – so, keep that in mind.

Moving forward, limit your online activity to things you would want an employer to see.

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