Cleaning Up Your Social Media Before the Job Hunt

The evolution of social media use in the digital age has shifted the recruiting landscape for job seekers and hiring managers alike. Job hunters can easily research a company’s culture, working environment and employees before deciding if they would be a good fit, and on the other hand, hiring managers can use the online presence of prospective candidates to make hiring decisions.

It’s no surprise that social media has become an increasingly popular option to vet potential hires. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, a full 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring, so it is essential that you take the time to prep your digital presence for the job hunt.

Employers Will Scope Out Your Social Media

Hiring managers check out the social presence of a potential candidate to see if they would not only be a good fit for the position but also if they would be a good fit as part of the company’s culture.

Ariel Lopez, CEO of 2020Shift and former recruiter, said she looks for “someone that has the skills, but someone that I like and want to be around for 40 hours a week.”

Showcasing your professional skills and marketing your personality through social media can be a delicate balance. While they might be looking for clues about your personality, they also may be searching for a reason not to hire you to thin out the candidate pool. It’s advised to avoid oversharing on social media including political affiliation, which is viewed negatively and will cause you to be screened out of the process. It’s also important to be cautious of typos when writing posts online, as over 70 percent of hiring managers will count it as a strike. Not surprisingly, around the same amount feel the same when it comes to marijuana use, according to Jobvite’s Annual Recruiting Survey.

LinkedIn is the top site employers gravitate toward when investigating a candidate’s social profile, but it’s closely followed by Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to CareerBuilder, 69 percent of employers will even check major search engines for a digital presence.

Here are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to social media.


  • Post sexual or explicit photos. Remove those images, or create a second, more professional public account for yourself if you’re on the job hunt.
  • Post photos or references to drugs, alcohol, or paraphernalia.
  • Post without reason (mindless posting).
  • Make discriminatory posts about race, religion, or gender.
  • Hide your account, or delete all of your posts. Remove the pics you wouldn’t want your mom (or boss!) seeing.


  • Choose a professional headline and profile photo.
  • Focus on relationship-building, rather than buying your followers.
  • Unfriend and unfollow questionable connections (those who engage in illegal activities or post explicit content).
  • Engage with thought leaders.
  • Double-check your privacy settings, but never post something you wouldn’t want an employer to see.
  • Join relevant groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Publish or share industry-related articles.

Social Recruiting is Taking Over

HR professionals know that the competition for good talent is fierce among companies. Digital recruitment allows employers to locate potential hires in the digital space and match their profiles and skills to that of the job description. A study by Society for Human Resource Management concluded that over 84 percent of organizations use social recruiting, with another 9 percent planning to use it.

When digital recruiting is weaved into traditional methods of talent acquisition, it provides a highly targeted candidate selection. With 89 percent of companies stating they have hired someone through LinkedIn, it’s likely social recruiting will continue to become more popular in the candidate screening process.

You, the job seeker, have the opportunity to increase your odds of getting found by ensuring you have a strong online presence.

Take Control of Your Digital Identity

Every successful job seeker needs its own arsenal of marketing materials when applying to jobs. You need a clean, sharp, authentic personal brand that will help set you apart in a competitive market.

Catherine Kaputa, author of Graduate to a Great Career, says, “You can expand your brand’s marketing materials to include online social networking profiles.” It’s important to think of social media profiles as an extension of your personal brand. Just like it’s important to have visually appealing resumes, business cards, and email signatures, social media profiles should show consistency with career goals, while also reflecting your personality.

You also have the opportunity to take control of your online reputation by having a handle on how other people view you, and you have plenty of tools at your fingertips to manage your own digital reputation. Having a well-rounded social presence will also show employers fluency in social media, which is a desirable skill to showcase.

With employers turning to social accounts to vet potential hires, it’s more crucial than ever to make sure your social media is kept clean while on the job hunt. It’s not worth it to miss out on a potential job opportunity because steps weren’t taken to reflect a more professional digital identity.

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