Years ago, you never had to worry that things you may have said in your youth would come back to haunt you when you apply for a job. But we live in a social media age, and many of us now grew up with it. But, as we get older, we need to know how to use it professionally. Indeed, 90% of employers say social media is important when considering an applicant. So, now more than ever, you need to be aware of your online presence – especially because many employer background checks look closely at your social media activity to see if you’re a suitable candidate. Here we’ll take a look at some useful tips and tricks to make sure your social media doesn’t put off a potential employer.
What Background Checks Find
Before you can get ready to clean up your social media presence, you need to find out how others see you online. It may not be ideal to go back through your social media feeds – no one has the time to scroll all the way back to the beginning – but it’s well worth having a look at your profile. Will potential employers see posts of you complaining about past jobs? Or tweets bragging about taking a sick day off to do something more fun? Obviously, that’s not a good look. Neither is any post that could be seen as discriminatory, which is likely to be an instant disqualifier. You should also pay particular attention to the posts you’ve been tagged in. Although it’s not technically your content, you won’t look great by association with an inappropriate post. A good way of checking your social media presence is by Googling yourself, and don’t forget to check the image results.
You can be one step ahead of your background check by doing one on yourself, allowing you to see exactly what an employer would see. Many services provide background checks for reasonable prices and you may be amazed at the results, as these services are capable of even finding hidden social media accounts.
Optimize Your Professional Accounts
One way to make sure you don’t have to worry about your social media accounts is to make them professional. If you’d rather not bother your close friends and family by blending your professional and personal life into one social media profile, then create separate ones. With this profile you can show off your skills and network, much like you would do with LinkedIn. It’s also a good idea to add your social media accounts to your resume (you can make them clickable links in a PDF file, for instance) to guide your prospective employer there directly.
It’s best to think of your social media as your own personal brand. Something that represents not only your personality but also shows off your skills. You could even post pictures with your coworkers at corporate events to show you’re a team player who would fit in well.
It’s always good to have some online presence rather than none. Although privacy is important, it can be detrimental if you have all of your social media profiles locked down, as some employers may find it suspicious rather than security-conscious. In fact, 47% of employers said that if they can’t find a candidate online then they’re less likely to arrange an interview. If you do want to keep your personal account just between you and your friends, then you should consider having a professional account as well. This will be your public face and your employers will be more understanding about your private account.
If you take all of this advice into consideration, then you’ll be more than prepared for your social media background check. Most of all, it’s important to think positively about your social media presence. At the background check stage of the recruitment process, companies are looking for reasons to hire you, not to reject you. If your social media highlights all your best qualities, then you’re giving yourself an even greater chance of getting the job.
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