Avoid These Social Media Mistakes When Job Hunting

Lock down your accounts

In this age of oversharing on social media, it’s far too easy to get ruled out of a job before you even make it to the interview stage. Facebook posts and photos can result in far too much information being gathered about you from a prospective employer. Your mother was right – you are judged by the company you keep.

Find out what you need to do to avoid social media mistakes while job hunting.

Avoid These Social Media Mistakes When Job Hunting

If you post it, it’s public

Even if you lock down your social media accounts, you have to assume that any potential employer will see all of your social media profiles, whether on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat. Even your Pinterest pages are sources of valuable info. If someone is seeking details on you, there are ways to find it.

For instance, if someone is a friend of a friend, they can still get access to portions of your profile that you’ve made available to that audience. Or even if your profile and photos are only open to friends, if you allow yourself to be tagged in photos, then potential employers can dig up dirt on you through the social media accounts of your friends who aren’t as locked down.

Or, if you post a profile or cover photo on Facebook, that is automatically public and all comments made to the photo are also public. And through those comments, employers can look up the accounts of your friends and family and see if there is information about you on those pages.

And of course, anything you post, whether you delete it a minute later, is still technically accessible, even if it takes a court order to get it from the social media company. Not that a potential employer is going to go that far. But definitely something to keep in mind when assessing the risk of posting on social media.


Our advice is to lock down all social media accounts unless you are in a profession that requires a social media presence...

Avoid These Social Media Mistakes When Job Hunting

Lock it down

Despite the ease of getting into parts of even locked accounts, it’s still crucial to keep your social media pages as private as possible.

“As a recruiting firm, we check social media before contacting potential candidates. Our advice is to lock down all social media accounts unless you are in a profession that requires a social media presence or if you have built up a professional following,” said Tracy Vistine, lead recruiter for Messina Group.

The following mistakes gets candidates dropped into the "no" file at the Messina Group:

  • Extreme views on specific topics.
  • Slander against a former boss or company.
  • Derogatory comments used against people of different races, sexes or sexual orientation.

But keep in mind that you don’t want to delete your entire social media persona, said Ashley Ryall, marketing and social media manager at WinterWyman.

“Employers want to see you are a person with hobbies and non-work-related interests too. Just use good judgment and be proactive about what you post and you'll make a positive impression in an interviewer's mind even before you meet with them. Anything someone publishes or allows onto social media about themselves can and will be seen by a potential employer,” Ryall said.

Ryall said these suggestions will ensure an online presence that is both professional and personal:

  1. Search for yourself - Begin your job search by Googling your name. What you see is what your potential employer will see. Will the results help you or hurt you when you are seeking a job? If they don't reflect well, clean it up. Take down posts that can be misinterpreted or just plain look bad.
  2. Your point of view - Your position on a topic could be seen as an asset or a liability by potential employers. If, for example, you frequently post about organic foods and local farming because you embrace nutrition and healthy eating, this could be intriguing to a potential employer. Conversely, taking a militant stand and harshly imposing your point of view onto others could be seen as risky and off-putting.
  3. Blog - Have your own blog or thinking of writing one? Blogging demonstrates to potential employers your interest in your profession and your enthusiasm for staying current with trends in your industry. Employers love to see that. Just be sure to keep potential employers in mind when you post.
  4. Know your space - Seek out videos, blogs and Tweets related to your area of interest. If, for example, your profession is in cosmetics, post YouTube's two-minute makeup videos on Facebook or Twitter and comment as to why you like them. This shows you are current and engaged in the trends related to your industry.
  5. The basics matter - Triple spell check anything and everything you post onto social media. Mastering grammar skills is important regardless of your profession. Your content could be thoughtful and interesting, but if it's filled with grammatical and spelling errors, it takes away from what you are saying and a potential employer may take a pass.
  6. Your image - your image with everything you put out there. Sift through your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter photos - regardless of your privacy settings, employers can and will find photos of you. If you have to think twice about how a photo or comment could be interpreted, take it down. A trending topic in personal branding is #professional. This blend of personal and professional gives employers the opportunity to know more about who you are, what you like and if you will be a good fit for the role.

So, before you post those photos from your Las Vegas bachelorette party, or rant about something on your personal blog, keep in mind that it’s likely to be seen by an unintended audience. Protect your reputation on social media and you’re more likely to land that new job.   

Tagged in: social media, career advice, job hunting,


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