10 Tips to a Clean Social Media Profile

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Updated January 2015: 

The 2014 Social Job Seeker survey from Jobvite makes for interesting reading and provides insight into how employers for social media and mobile jobs possibly find prospective employees. The main takeaways? Over 90% of recruiters look at candidates’ social media profiles. The difference here is that job seekers tend to use Facebook more and LinkedIn less, while recruiters use LinkedIn the most to scope out potential new hires.

With this in mind, it makes sense for you to spend some time smartening up your social media profiles to make you stand out to potential employers. Here are a few quick tips to help get you started.

  1. Lose the unflattering photos. You know what we mean. Most college students have had their moments of indiscretion. Yes, we are referring to that over-documented keg stand you did at that house party sophomore year (and other such photos). This one should go without saying, but the truth is, this advice doesn’t seem to sink in with some. A potential employer isn’t going to be that impressed by that picture of you in a beer hat, even if you did make it yourself. It is more likely to make them deem you an irresponsible employee. At the very least, make those memories private!
  2. Never post illegal activities. While your friends may think it’s hilarious to post pics of you lying in a gutter after one Harvey Wallbanger too many on your 20th birthday, an employer is unlikely to feel the same. This goes for all illegal activities, as harmless as they may seem at the time. Ask your mates to remove offending pics, and show them the same respect. If they refuse, the best thing you can do is untag yourself (and ask yourself if you want to remain friends).
  3. With that said… If you agree that evidence of alcohol consumption (excessive or otherwise) is bad, then you won’t be surprised to hear that references to drugs or posts of a sexual nature are viewed even more dimly. Employers don’t want to hear how many of those proverbial notches you’ve racked up or exactly what you did during that holiday to Amsterdam, so remove any unnecessary info about sex and drugs promptly.
  4. Trust privacy settings with caution. As private as you may think your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc has been set, don’t rely on this too heavily. You never know when a friend of a friend you became connected with on Facebook 5 years ago may be able to show a potential employer your full profile. It may help to weed through friends and followers to rid yourself of people who are mere strangers to you. In general, however, if you don’t want something seen, just leave it off of the internet.
  5. Spell check is your friend. In addition to the biggies of alcohol, sex, and drugs, 54% of potential employers viewed poor grammar and spelling mistakes negatively. Perhaps surprisingly, this figure is more than alcohol (47% of employers view references to alcohol negatively). With this in mind, it pays to use spell check and re-read what you type!
  6. Display your membership to professional organizations. Recruiters feel positively about job candidates who are members of relevant professional organizations. If you’ve already joined up, make sure that nugget of information is prominently displayed. If you’re not a member of your relevant trade body yet, then consider signing on the dotted line as soon as you can.
  7. Give back. Evidence of volunteering is also looked upon favorably by more than 60% of recruiters. It’s similar advice to professional organizations in that if you’ve already done it, make sure you shout about it. Haven’t yet volunteered to make so much as a cup of tea? This one’s easy enough to change. Visit VolunteerMatch to find opportunities, and pay attention on your campus to learn about ways you can help.
  8. Keep opinions to yourself. It is important to have opinions regarding politics, society, the environment and beyond. In fact, college is a time when many of these opinions begin to form. Use discretion when posting about these opinions on social media, however. You never know when you’ll offend a potential employer who may feel differently. Being involved in a professional organization which displays your beliefs is a more respectable way to show them by blasting your opinions as a Facebook status for all to hear.
  9. Be positive. While posting about controversial subjects should be avoided, writing positive thoughts is perfectly fine. Many job seekers may choose to post minimally and put maximum privacy settings on their posts, which is a good idea in general. However, if you want your posts to be visible to the public, make them positive. Lashing out against a rude professor or lazy colleague will only make you appear the one who needs an attitude adjustment.
  10. Sharpen all of your social media profiles. As we mentioned before, Facebook is the second most popular network that is used for recruitment; the global favorite being LinkedIn. Assuming you’ve got a great LinkedIn profile already (if not, why not?), don’t forget to link to it from your Facebook page. You might create your own cover photo with those relevant details or include it in the “About” section of your profile. Either way, make sure employers can find it.

Want to find out more? Grab yourself a free copy of the Jobvite report.

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