It’s happened to us all. Scrolling through Facebook when suddenly a name you’ve never seen before pops up. You click on their picture and quickly realize it’s actually one of your best friend’s who has gone rogue during a job hunt. They changed their name to their middle name or shortened their last name. In fact, you may have done it yourself.
“But, Kelsey, obviously I changed my name. Why would I want future employers to see all of these pictures of me drinking or partying and that one time I passed out with my shoes on?”
Well, well, well. According to Time magazine, a whopping 93% of employers check a candidate’s social media before making a hiring decision. So it’s understandable that you would want to hide that information.
But what if you reversed your thinking? Instead of hiding from your employer, market yourself! Make yourself easier to find and make the content on your social media work to your advantage.
Most of marketing yourself on social media properly is based off things you shouldn’t do, rather than the things you should do. So let’s go over those first. Untag yourself in any inappropriate photos. Read: anything that has anything to do with illegal activity. If you’re underage and there are photos of you with a drink here and there, you can probably leave it since employers aren’t allowed to ask your age. That being said, if every picture shows you doing keg stands, maybe untag a few of those. Go through your past year’s of pictures and posts and make sure there’s nothing to do with drugs! And yes, technically pot is still illegal in most states. Live in a state where it’s legal? You may want to hold off on the 420 posts as the stoner stigma could still be lingering. Guns and alcohol? Though neither of these are illegal for most adults, be wary about excessive posts. Employers aren’t concerned with employees shown with drinks in their hands at outings, but a plethora of pics playing pong or posting that meme about needing to get drunk to deal with humanity can come off the wrong way.
Basically, use common sense. Keep your stuff clean and classy. And always use spellcheck! According to Jobvite, 66% of hiring managers say they would poor spelling and grammar against a candidate. Oh, and unsurprisingly so, political affiliation and posts can also be held against you.
You know what not to do. So what can you do? Definitely keep your posts clean and appropriate. On Facebook and Instagram, post things about your personal life – you know those accomplishment updates that always get hundreds of likes? Or post pictures of family outings or date nights! Definitely share articles related to your interests and industry. Totally Instagram a humble selfie (but not too often!). Recruiters use social media for a number of reasons, including to measure what they call a “cultural fit.” So show them who you are! If you volunteer, you should absolutely post content relating to that! Even if you donate regularly to important causes, humbly post why you feel strongly about them and why others should consider donating. About 65% of recruiters say that seeing candidates’ volunteer experience gives them serious ups.
Now, what about the ever-elusive LinkedIn? Maybe you made one last year and never kept up with it or you’ve had a steady job so you haven’t updated it in a while. Either way, update that profile picture and add all of your experience. List what school(s) you went to and any big projects you worked on. Just under 80% of hiring managers have hired through LinkedIn, so use it to your advantage! Oh, and do look at the LinkedIn profiles of your interviewer, if you know who it will be with. It reminds you of them and shows them that you’re interested and committed. But don’t connect with them until after the interview, and only do so if you think it went really well!
And last but not least: Twitter and Snapchat. They aren’t on a hiring managers radar unless you’ve been in the public. A regular Joe Schmo doesn’t need to worry too much about these two. That being said, never post things on either platform (or any platform) that may come back to haunt you. We’ve all seen horror stories of people losing their jobs for sexist or otherwise off-color tweets coming back to haunt them years after the fact!