Will you pass the Employer’s Social Media Screen?

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5 key tips, to make sure your social media profiles is employer approved!

So, let’s talk about social media screening. Did you know that it’s the new normal for employers to check out your social media sites? Yes, that’s right! Even Facebook! It’s a unique beast to conquer for anyone who is looking for employment, and how you handle it has no single right answer because it varies for each individual.

So, if you were under the impression that wasn’t happening, don’t fool yourself. You have a digital thumbprint and you need to make sure it’s professional. Yes, employers will screen you on social media before contacting you about an interview. They may even ask for your social media profiles as part of an application. It’s just one step in the vetting process to find people who will fit within their culture.

Ultimately everyone is looking for someone who handles herself or himself appropriately in a social setting. Why? Well, like it or not, your personal and professional life are linked and both are important when presenting who you are and how you operate in the world of work . You still need to avoid bringing personal issues with you to the workplace, just as you shouldn’t bring stress from work home with you, but the hard line between work and life doesn’t exist as it used to. You might find yourself socializing with a potential client outside the workday, and your employer wants to know that you are able to conduct yourself professionally.

On the flip side, this doesn’t mean you should delete your social media accounts altogether, nor should you make yourself difficult to find on social media. In fact quite the opposite. You should be easy to find and connect with. Employers want to see you, and see that you are a well-rounded person with passions and interests that extend beyond work.

In essence they want to see you as a person, not as an abstract cog in the machine. But it may mean that you need to do some social clean up.

Being present on social media humanizes you. Think about any time you see a person’s Facebook, or Instagram account and they don’t have a profile picture. The profile doesn’t feel right; it comes across as incomplete and somewhat untrustworthy. Why has it been left incomplete? It’s odd, and in the long run that can hurt you.

Best-case scenario, the employer just assumes you don’t have it, but this does run the risk of them finding another candidate’s profile and thinking “Hey this looks like a cool person to work with!” meanwhile you haven’t left any kind of lasting personal, human impression, you are still just a piece of paper to them.

Worst-case scenario the employer thinks you have something in your social life to hide, which carries a ton of consequences, none of which make you look good.

It’s about striking a middle ground. Your social media presence should reflect who you are as a person. For example, a picture of you and your friends at a bar having a good time isn’t something you should worry about. It shows you have a healthy social life and can cut loose at appropriate times. However, you may want to delete that photo of you doing a keg stand back in college.

A LinkedIn profile will likely be an employer’s first stop, which is good. This is the go-to professional answer to social media. Chances are if you are just starting your job search or just diving into social media in general, you haven’t spent as much time on your LinkedIn profile as you might have on your Instagram. A professional LinkedIn profile is a must. Add your picture, a video and your profile information and ensure it is up to date.

Try to look at your social profiles objectively, as well as from the perspective of an employer. Google yourself! What do you find? It may also help to have a few friends look at your profiles and give their perspectives on how an employer might view it. Remember that context is key when you audit your social media presence! If it comes across as a little racy without context, it should probably go, and if it’s racy even with context, well it should definitely go!

Let’s recap:

  1. Audit your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts

  2. Clean up any digital dirt!

  3. Build out your LinkedIn profile

  4. Make sure all profiles are populated with images and video to drive up your visibility and findability

  5. Ensure everything aligns with your personal brand and what you want people to know about you