How to Prepare Your Social Media for a Job Search

If you are ready to begin the search for a great job, chances are you have a lot on your mind! You have to get your resume up to date and impressive, create the perfect cover letter, find out who is hiring and prepare for those tough interview questions.

Even though you’ve got a lot on your plate, don’t overlook management of your social media accounts. More and more potential employers are turning to social networks to check up on prospective employees, and what you’ve got online could determine whether or not you land the job!

Know where you can be found

Sure, you have a Facebook account or a LinkedIn profile, but you might not be aware of everywhere you appear online. Maybe you signed up for a dating site a few years back and have forgotten all about it, or maybe a family member uploaded some crazy pictures of you at your last family reunion.

While you certainly need to be concerned about the social networking sites you use on a regular basis, old profiles need to be addressed too. If you can’t remember every site you’ve ever signed up for (and who can?), try doing an online search of your name, any screen names and/or your email address. If you find your name attached to a profile or website that you’ve never heard of, email the webmaster of the site and ask them to remove you.

You can almost bet that your potential employers are going to run a Google search on you, and you don’t want to lose out on an amazing job because you didn’t take the time to make sure there was nothing bad about you online — especially if you didn’t willingly sign up to the site!

Keep pictures G-Rated

When you upload a picture online, you are sending a message about who you are. Even if you delete that picture, it may have been saved by countless others, circulating the Internet unbeknownst to you. This is why you should always be careful about the pictures that you post, even if you’re celebrating because you’ve recently graduated from college.

Avoid posting pictures in which you are scantily clad, obviously drinking alcohol or engaging in any illegal activities, and any pictures that you wouldn’t want your future boss to see — because chances are he or she will.

Facebook has a tendency to change their privacy settings quite often, and most people don’t care to read the latest updates. The next time you log onto your Facebook page take a look at your privacy settings and make sure that your settings are private!

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Chances are you don’t upload photos to Twitter like you do on Facebook, but you do have to watch what you say. Unlike Facebook, if your Twitter account is public anyone and everyone can see your tweets, regardless of whether or not they have their own account.

If a potential employer sees you tweeted something inappropriate, illegal, politically incorrect, or anything else that could be deemed offensive they may not hire you. For example, if you’re a recent college grad who is applying for jobs, a potential employer isn’t going to be too pleased when they see a tweet where you talk about how you cheated your way through your Philosophy class, or how you “embellished” your resume a bit.

Even if your Twitter account is protected, that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Many employers will request to follow potential employees on Twitter. Sure you’re free to deny their request, but that doesn’t send them the best impression of you!

Don’t insults/diss past employers

If you’ve ever been unfairly fired or just had a bad employment experience, it can feel very good to vent your feelings on your blog or through some other social media platform. However, potential employers are sure to find these kinds of tirades and it can make them worry that you’d do the same thing to them. Vent to a trusted friend (in private) instead.

If you’re filling out a profile on a job search website and you’re trying to explain why you were “let go” from a previous position, be extremely careful not to sound angry or bitter toward the company, even if they did wrong you. Keep your explanations vague and political. Saying “The position was not the right fit for my personality” sounds much better than saying “My boss and I could never see eye to eye.”

If all else fails…

If the temptation to post pictures of yourself partying or to blog about how awful your last job was is too great to resist, then at least take control of your online escapades by keeping them anonymous.

Use a separate email address or screen name for personal online activity and don’t mix it with your work name or email. Remember, though, that it’s best to resist if you can, because today’s savvy employers often have a way of finding what you don’t want them to find.

By Michael Deaven

Michael is a full-time blogger who has passions in all corners of the online world. In his down time he enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and blogging on everything from technology, to business, to marketing, and beyond. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.