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Applicants: How ‘clean’ is your social media? It matters now more than ever.

How ‘clean’ is your social media? It matters now more than ever.


It’s no secret that our world is becoming increasingly digital, but between the current surge of employees working remotely, the growing amount of time most of us have to kill and the desire to stay connected with loved ones, we’ve all been online a lot lately.

Social media is a great way to spend extra time and stay connected with friends and family you aren’t able to see right now, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down when it comes to what you chose to share. 

According to a 2018 Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the recruiting firm, CareerBuilder, about 70 percent of employers utilize these sites during a candidate search. Over half of those interviewed (57 percent) said they discovered online content that caused them to pass on the applicant.

So, as you apply for your next career move, ask yourself some questions about your social media content:

First and foremost, do your privacy settings protect you from strangers or those you aren’t friends with from viewing your posts? There are different settings on each social media platform, so you should check them individually to ensure that your posts and activity can only be seen by who you are comfortable with.

Next, does your profile match up with the qualifications on your resume? Your resume and job application are critical as this is your time to make a big first impression. Nothing will sour that moment more than not matching those talents and skills to your online presence.

Do your posts show a level of professionalism and career interest that match your resume? How is your education and prior experience beneficial to the position you are applying for? Do your outside interests and professional memberships enhance your career path? These are all critical things to consider!

Do your social media pages contain inappropriate memes, photos or videos – or worse -- content relating to illegal drug use or excessive drinking? Whether you are new to the workforce or an experienced professional looking for change, consider everything you have posted in the past.

If you must, create different profiles to reflect your personal and professional life. But do not think that removing improper or insensitive content post-interview can save you. It’s likely that somewhere down the road, it’s been saved or passed on. You should also know that even if you have your social media security settings locked down, anyone who can see your posts could still share them with anyone else via a screenshot.  

An acquaintance relays the story of a time he brought in a human resources pro from Pay Pal to address a group of very bright and ambitious teenagers going through a leadership academy. She discussed her use of social media and credit background searches on applicants – mostly young people right out of high school or college. He said he’d never seen a group more attentive teens as the “aha” moment arrived and reality set in. It was truly a life transforming point in their lives.  

Yes, companies will perform searches to get a better idea of who you are beyond the in-person interviews and resumes. Looking for work in the banking and finance world? Better have a decent credit score. Want to be in marketing or advertising? Show some creativity in your postings. Health care? No recreational drug or alcohol use, please.

You probably have a genuine interest and passion in your career choice, let your social media content reflect that. Share your insights and thoughts on the industry you have chosen to pursue, add to the conversation and share your unique perspective. Having your online profile truly represent who are and what you can bring to the job will only boost the chances of you moving forward in the interview process.

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