When looking for a new job, everyone hopes to leave a good first impression on a potential boss. This involves a lot of work, from refining your CV to practicing all of your interview questions. However, there is one area that is often overlooked by potential employees, which is their social media activity. 

Social media is an integral part of everyday life so it is understandable for employers to consult different social media accounts to gain better insights into what potential employees might be like. The easiest way to do this is to conduct a social media background check.

Is it legal for potential employers to look you up online? The short answer is yes. Social media accounts provide an in-depth view of who you are. Because this information is considered public domain, a prospective employer has the right to Google you and look at your digital footprints. That’s why it’s important to consider what you post online. If you don’t want future employers to have access to your social media profiles, you can change your privacy settings.

What is a social media screening?

A social media screening is typically performed before employment when a job seeker is applying for a position. The screening entails looking at a prospective employee’s social media accounts, such as what they post, like, and comment on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.

During the recruitment process, employers look for any red flags relating to prospective employees. Red flags might involve the posting of offensive comments, violent or aggressive behavior, illegal activities, or sexually explicit material.

Why do employers check social media?

Employers or recruitment agencies look at social media for reasons to reject an applicant. Images of an employee acting immaturely, recklessly, or offensively could reflect poorly professionally and be the source of future concern. Employers check social media because people are more genuine online than during job interviews.

As a job seeker, it’s important to limit the use of vulgarity or derogatory language, as well as comments about this kind of behavior. For instance, venting online about how much you hate your previous employer would probably send wrong signals to potential employers. Additionally, any remarks implying that the material on your resume is inaccurate or deceptive might jeopardize your job prospects.

Things that you might find amusing or insignificant may cause an employer to doubt your professionalism. A high number of posts during regular business hours may lead a recruiting manager to believe that you are not serious about your current job and would not be a dependable employee.

Which social media channels can employers check?

The top 3 social media channels that most employers check are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Employers are typically most interested in LinkedIn as it is the most relevant to the job search.

The majority of employers see LinkedIn as a supplementary CV. Nonetheless, they are still very likely to look at other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook.  Make sure that you are aware of who follows you and how they engage with your content.

Instagram

Instagram allows you a little more control over what is shared on your page in comparison to other social media platforms. It’s important to maintain a professional and positive approach on your profile to give potential employers an idea of who you are and what you are like.

Facebook

Facebook is usually seen as the safest type of social media because often only your friends can access your posts and profile if your settings are private. You should make sure that you are aware of who you are friends with and what they post on your wall or tag you in.

Twitter

Almost anyone can see what you put on Twitter and the tweets that you like or react to, unless your profile is changed to private. Changing your profile to private stops potential employers from seeing your content on Twitter, but it may also hinder you from making a good first impression, especially if your profile is professionally-oriented. 

TikTok

TikTok is gradually gaining traction as a platform that employers frequently monitor. You can assist your potential employer to get a feel for who you are and how you might work with others at the company by creating videos on the app. However, as always, make sure that your content is professional and positive.

How to establish a culture of respect in the workplace

3 tips to pass social media screenings

Google yourself

Take a minute every couple of weeks or months to Google yourself. When your potential employer looks at your social media presence, this is usually where they will begin, so it’s good to know what might come up. This will also allow you to stay ahead of any unfavorable results, ensuring that all the top search results are ones you’d be happy for your potential employer to see.

Use social media to your advantage

Contrary to popular belief, most companies are looking for reasons to recruit someone rather than the opposite. The majority of employers are actively looking for information that highlights a candidate’s qualities and qualifications to be able to give them the role. It’s important to keep your profiles up to date, especially your LinkedIn account, which should represent your most recent work experiences and professional successes.

Don’t delete your social media profiles

While some job seekers may be tempted to delete their online profiles by fear of something humiliating or negative being found, this technique can fail. Some companies will not call someone in for an interview if they can’t find them online. It’s also not a smart idea to erase your social media profiles because it doesn’t ensure that the data is totally gone. Furthermore, it might appear as if you’re attempting to hide something. 

How to make your social media profiles private

As it is legal for employers to look into your social media profiles, you might want to privatize your personal social media profiles by changing the settings of your account or by creating a work-related one and a social media account for friends only.

Does social media show up on background checks?

Background checks do not usually reveal social media accounts. Employment history, credit information, and legal issues are all part of most background investigations. However, it is important to note that there may be certain scenarios where a social media background check will make or break your candidature.

Some companies specialize in conducting social media-based background checks, but it is a very distinct service. It is not something that companies will typically use when recruiting for a position.

What are the main causes of employee turnover?

What to avoid on social media

Over half of employers who chose to use social media screenings have encountered material that caused them to reject an applicant. Therefore, your social media profiles should not contain any profanity or inappropriate content.

Furthermore, you should not share anything that is offensive or insulting. You should remove any posts that are a direct attack on someone else. You are free to express your opinions on your accounts, but it should be appropriate and thoughtful.

Consider the following tips to maintain a professional online presence:

Find your ideal candidate

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