Are you actively applying and interviewing for new jobs? If so, it's important to take a look at your social media presence to make sure you aren't raising any red flags for potential employers. One-third of the employers who screen the social media profiles of candidates said they have decided not to hire someone because of information they found online.
The main red flags mentioned by employers were inappropriate or revealing photos, evidence of excessive drinking or drug use, bad-mouthing former employers, lying about qualifications, and discriminatory comments toward a person's race or gender. While some social media sites like Facebook can be made private and accessible to friends only, most other sites (Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) are more public in most cases.
Taking a Second Look
Removing material that could be objectionable only makes sense with the increasing number of employers screening these sites. Screen your profiles as if you are an employer and look for typos as well as objectionable items that you need to delete. While some employers may be able to access even deleted material, they know that it goes beyond the scope of their efforts and won't do it if they are following the proper protocols.
Employers are not just looking for negative information that will exclude you from consideration. Many who screen profiles also say they get a feel for personalities that will fit in well with the company culture and for information that gives candidates an advantage in the job search. A good exercise might be to have friends look at your profile and tell you whether they think it reflects who you really are.
Going Above and Beyond
Having a cleaned-up profile on each of your social media pages is a great first step to passing hiring muster, but you can go even further to stand out to an employer in a good way. Many social media sites have groups you can join that are based around your profession. Joining and participating in these groups can be a way to make contacts that could lead to a job.
Group participation can show an employer that you are an active learner and put effort into your professional development. Another way to do this without having to monitor group messages constantly is to share articles or other material related to your career. The presence of professional content on your profile will show that you value your career and put time into it.
Limitations on Screening
Keep in mind that employers have to be fair about the way they screen profiles. They can't use information that is meant to be private, and they can't look at one candidate's information, but not another's.
Most employers know this and are careful to screen consistently. If you find out that an employer hasn't followed these principles, you may have recourse to fight a hiring decision that didn't go in your favor. Just consider whether you would want to work for a company like that, anyway.
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