How to check your social media before applying for a job

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There are lots of things you need to check before you apply for a job. Besides getting your CV and cover letter right, your social media pages also need a review.

But why do I need to go through my social media profiles?

Most employers like to look online to see who they might be hiring, and if your Facebook and Instagram pages are accessible to the public, you are going to be spied upon. Your CV doesn’t give away a great deal about your personality, and this is why employers are checking online to find out more about potential candidates.

Although an employer should hire based on your credentials, they will still make a judgement based on what they see and read on your social media pages. To ensure you don’t have anything online which could hinder your chances of getting an interview, here are a few things you need to do before you apply:

Google your name

When you type in your name on Google, what comes up? This is the best place to start so you can do a quick sweep of any old accounts or posts that you may have forgotten about.

If you posted something on a forum a few years ago that you wouldn’t want an employer to see, then now’s the time to delete it so it doesn’t affect your chances of getting an interview.

Your opinions and comments a few years ago may not reflect your thoughts now, and even if you stand by them it could be that your employer doesn’t. Freedom of speech is not something we want to prevent you from doing with this advice, but if you happen to comment on something quite controversial at the time, you may want to consider whether or not it really matters now.

Don’t miss anything

You have to be really thorough when it comes to checking every footprint you’ve made online, which means going through as many posts and pictures as possible to see what could be deemed inappropriate by an employer.

Your boozy nights out on the weekend might seem harmless to you, but if you have lots of pictures of you falling over and the hiring manager finds them, it could look like you are a party animal that isn’t very grounded and geared for success.

This doesn’t mean to say you should delete everything that involves you on a night out or on holiday, but instead you should carefully remove anything that goes a bit too far. Also, if most of your pictures are of crazy nights out you may want to cut that down quite a bit.

Every single social media profile you have needs to be checked. That could include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. Look back over your comments and make sure there is nothing there that’s rude or offensive. Everybody jokes around on social media and posts memes and gifs, but do you really want an employer to see them?

Remember also that sometimes your activity on a social profile is public. For example, if your prospective employer follows you on Twitter and you like a tweet that is potentially offensive, they’ll be able to see that activity. One solution to this is to make your account private – this way only approved followers can see either likes or tweets. However, this is a missed opportunity to show that you’re immersed in your target industry.

“Your profiles are an opportunity to showcase your skills, interests, and network, along with the fact that you’re savvy with social media.”

~ Liz Bentley, Career Coach for Liz Bentley Associates.

Don’t be afraid to delete 

If you have any doubts about a picture or a comment that you’ve made on social media, then don’t hesitate to delete it. You could always backup any pictures you don’t want to lose, and getting through to the interview stage is far more important.

Remember, the employer may not share your humour, religious or political views and there is no point in taking a risk that they may see something you’ve posted.

Here’s how you can download all your pics in a handy archive on Facebook.

Don’t let your friends ruin your chances 

Your friends may tag you in something from time to time, or post things on your wall. Again, it’s possible that an employer might see something they deem inappropriate so it’s important to let your friends have some ground rules.

We’ve all had that friend in the past that takes great pleasure in photographing you whilst you are naked on your stag party. We are assuming you wouldn’t want your potential future boss to see you in all your glory, so either get them to delete it or ask them not to post anything like this in future.

Alternatively, take these steps to stop people posting things on your timeline.

Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date 

Having a LinkedIn profile is a fantastic way of boosting your chances of getting an interview. The employer treats your profile as a second virtual job application, and will be impressed if you are able to create lots of professional connections.

For more information on why LinkedIn is so important and for help building a killer LinkedIn profile, click here.

Choose the right CV template

CV template with space for social profiles

Above: This free CV template is one of many with space for social accounts. Check out the full collection of free CV templates here.

A number of CV templates have space to include your social profiles. For the rest, it’s really easy to add this information into the contact details space. Typically candidates include LinkedIn and Twitter. If the candidate has art or graphic work that is relevant to the job, they might also include Instagram.


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1 thought on “How to check your social media before applying for a job”

  1. Social accounts – Twitter and LinkedIn especially – are such a missed opportunity for many applicants. I ALWAYS check these together with Facebook and Instagram (I’ll hunt you down anyway if you haven’t given me your handle!) And it really influences whether I invite people in for an interview.


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