Social Media Scrabble Tiles next to Facebook on cell phone

Is your social media ruining your chances for a great job? Here are 7 ways to clean it up.

You’ve updated your resume to make it ATS friendly, spoken to a few people about providing references, and practiced your interviewing skills. One more thing you should do as you embark on a job search? Clean up your social media.

You may think your personal social media pages are all fun and games, but the way you portray yourself to your friends and the general public could be hurting your chances of getting a great new job. According to a survey from The Harris Poll, 71% of hiring decision makers agree that social media is effective for screening applicants. And more than half have found content on a candidate’s social media pages that have lost them a potential job offer.

Why does what you say on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook matter? Because companies want to hire people they can trust to maintain a certain level of professionalism, even in their off hours. No company wants to deal with a public relations nightmare because of an employee’s questionable decisions or reckless posting. And so, even before you set foot in the door for an interview, it’s likely that your online “digital footprint” has already been scrutinized.

So here are 7 ways to clean up your social media before you start a job search:

1. Check out your social media profile photos

Take a look at your profile picture across all your social media accounts. Your profile photo on Facebook and Instagram does not need to look like a professional headshot—it’s okay to have some fun with your images on your personal social media pages! But, take a look at your profile picture critically: Do you look approachable or scary? Is this a photo you’re okay with a potential boss seeing?

Then go check out your LinkedIn profile photo. On this business-related social networking site, your photo should look much more professional. No blurry candids, controversial quotes, or pictures with your dog. Unless you’re applying to be a dog walker.

2. Take a look at your social media accounts as if you’re an outsider

Facebook makes it easy to “lock down” your personal page so that only your friends can see what you post. To double check your settings, click your profile and then the little “eyeball” icon to see your page in “public view”. If you don’t want so much of your personal information to be out there, adjust your privacy settings accordingly. Twitter and Instagram make it easy to change from a “public” to a “private” page too.

3. Don’t share it on social media if you don’t want people to see it

If you don’t want a potential employer to see something, don’t post it! Save the truly controversial opinions or ridiculous photos for a direct message to a trusted friend. Too many people realize too late that their “private” social media page is not entirely private because content can be captured with a screenshot and shared in other places.

This does not only apply to comments or photos. If you are on Twitter, use the “retweet” button carefully. Ask yourself: Is this true? Is this source someone I can trust? Would I be okay if someone thought I wrote this Tweet? Remember that those clicks show up in your activity history, so be smart if you have a public page.

4. Do not complain about your past or present employers on social media

A prospective employer does not want to wonder if they’ll be the next company you belittle all over the internet, so be careful that you aren’t taking out your frustrations about a boss or manager on your social media pages or on company pages.

5. Think about accounts you may not have used in a while (e.g., Yelp, Trip Advisor)

Consider taking down any of your reviews that you may have written when a little hot under the collar. Even if that restaurant really did screw up your order or the hotel was not as nice as you expected, there’s constructive criticism, and then there’s a rant. While many of us lose our cool when an experience goes south, employers will want to hire someone who can work with others without resorting to threats or bad language.

6. Make sure you update your LinkedIn profile with current job experience

While we’re talking about “cleaning up” your social media, don’t forget that includes making updates to your LinkedIn profile if you’re applying for a job. Many companies use LinkedIn, and this is an easy way for them to verify the experience on your resume and see if it matches what your LinkedIn profile says.

7. Finally, beyond social media, see what your digital footprint looks like to an outsider

Do a search for your name in quotation marks: “John Smith” on Google, Bing, and other major search engines. What do you see when you search your name? If you are finding links to less-than-flattering things, take steps to remove or bury those searches by untagging yourself from photos or taking down content.

By taking a few minutes to clean up your social media and online presence, you may find more doors opening for you. And, knowing that so many hiring managers will look you up online before they even talk to you, maybe you’ll pause before you click “post” next time.


Have you cleaned up your social media and are now ready to talk about jobs? Get in touch with us, and we will try to help!