5 Ways to Ensure Your Social Media Profile Won’t Create Barriers During Your Job Search

If you use the word “consistent” as one of your strengths on a resume, could the potential employer of your dream job pull up your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and view the same “brand” across all social platforms?

Hiring managers are on the prowl, whether your profile is ready or not. Are you projecting the image you want them to see? PHOTO CREDIT: www.powerretail.com.au
Hiring managers are on the prowl, whether your profile is ready or not. Are you projecting the image you want them to see?
PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.powerretail.com.au

Yes? No? Maybe? If that question took you more than three seconds to answer then it is likely that you have some serious work to do.

The day you create an account on social media is the first step in defining your digital footprint. Whether you realize it or not, you are walking, talking, tweeting, posting, brand – just like Nike, Campbell’s, McDonald’s, or Wal-Mart. Although you may not be a well-sought household name, you have the responsibility of protecting your reputation and projecting a positive image that shows your personality, wisdom, and strengths.

If you were an early adopter of social media, chances are, social media etiquette was the last thing on your mind. Once upon the time Facebook was a safe utopia to express yourself without your parents having the slightest clue about the silly pictures you posted or the inappropriate school-aged jokes you shared among your immediate circle of Facebook junkies. At one period of time, a hashtag was merely a symbol on phone and not a crafty way to track a trending conversation.

Fortunately for us, the popularity and accessibility of social media has tremendously increased with our age. No longer are we the teens with no worries about what we post; we are young adults who realize that our actions on social media could cost us an opportunity to advance in our professional careers.

Don’t panic if you haven’t come to this revelation or experienced social media related problems first hand – all is definitely not lost. Find out what you can do to protect your reputation online and remain a candidate for your dream job.

1. Google Me Baby

Google was your best friend in college and will be your best friend when it comes to your personal brand. Use Google and other search engines such as Yahoo or Bing to see what information is available about you. Most employers often start with a quick Google search, so before you apply to your dream job check out what others can find out about you first.

2. Know Your Rights: Explore Privacy Settings

If you are someone who does not keep up with the constantly changing privacy settings on social networks, then you may be victim of a potential employer seeing a picture of you lining up twelve shots of patron and taking them to the head last weekend. Then again, if you are a closed book with little or limited information available, an employer may think that you have something to hide. An open or closed profile may appear hopeless in a job search; however it is up to you to determine the type of information that you want to be available to the public. Become familiar with your privacy options and use them to your advantage.

3. Separate Profiles, Separate E-mails

No one should limit themselves to one e-mail, especially for the purpose of social media. If you decide to create separate profiles for your personal and professional image, make sure that you have e-mails for both purposes. E-mail searches are often used to screen potential job candidates, so make sure that a social media account that you don’t want an employer to view is not associated with your professional e-mail.

4. Give Your Social Media Profile a Make-Over

If you cannot fathom the idea of deleting your profile and starting over or creating a separate profile for business, it’s time to give your profile a make-over. If you have a public profile, be sure to make it private during this transition. Delete any posts or pictures that can be potentially damaging to your brand. Untag yourself from posts or pictures from friends who may not understand that pictures from the club or Spring Break are no longer memories you want to share with the world. Explore your privacy settings to determine which options make you comfortable. Anything that you want to keep (i.e. pictures) should be moved onto a USB.

5. Contact Your Friends and Family

Be sure to contact your friends and family to let them know that you are currently strengthening your personal brand and would appreciate communication before anything that could be potentially damaging is posted. Although you can control tag settings, you cannot control if someone wants to post something or not. It is likely that they will be understanding and respect your wishes. If not, reporting bad content or deleting someone from your account may be actions that you may not necessarily want to do but something that you may be thankful for in the long run.

Social media is an evolving “thing” that the world (and employers) has embraced. It is your responsibility to keep up with the evolution and understand where your social brand lands in the scheme of things.

After all, you don’t want to be viewed as a consistent liar if you’re an accomplished, community-driven saint on LinkedIn and a bar-hopping, explicit individual with no regard to life on Facebook.

Have you given your social media profiles a make-over? Do you know someone that needs to take this advice? Share below!

Whitney L. White is a recent college graduate from Wilberforce University with a passion for social media and personal branding. By day, she is a Job Search Assistant to Job Seekers in Cincinnati and by night she is glued to her phone following the latest trends in social media. She strives to shake all stigmas of Millennials and uplift her fellow Gen Yers on the way. Follow her on Twitter @i_HEARTNews. WARNING: Her profile is pretty darn clean.  


Facebook – Privacy Settings

Twitter – Privacy Settings

Instagram – Privacy Settings

11 thoughts on “5 Ways to Ensure Your Social Media Profile Won’t Create Barriers During Your Job Search

  1. This is a great article! Many people do not understand that what they put online is pretty much there forever & for job recruiters to see. You give practical advice to increase the chances of finding a job. Now I need to recheck all of my media…hopefully I’ll be able to find a job once I finish school.

    1. I have no doubt that you will able to find a job India. The main asset to have is confidence. Without confidence it is hard to sell your value to a potential employer. As long as you rack up on experience and pay attention in school, confidence should come naturally. Check your digital footprint monthly – you never know what may pop up when you’re off the radar. (This includes good things about you too, not just the negative.)

  2. Whitney, great piece and excellent advice broken down into steps for folks like me who are not social media experts! Look forward to reading more posts!

    1. You’re welcome J-Brodie! I hope you have a grip on your social media accounts, they may be inportant aspects in your job search – if you are searching. If not, it is still important to maintain your personal brand online while employed because you want to keep a job.

  3. This needs to be read by everyone between the ages 16-25. So many young adults are getting nowhere in life because they are still using social media as an online journal. It has evolved into so much more and people are ignorant to the dramatic changes. Your media presence is now everything, I hope people, especially the generation coming up will understand this! When I was in college, I won a scholarship that 50 African American young ladies on my campus applied for. The founder told me my Facebook was the only one that was clean and private, and that was how she made her decision! Out of 50 girls! It’s so necessary to clean your Facebook and read your privacy right. This is such a good blog. Well said and clearly stated! Thank you for reaching out to help the community!

  4. Wow. Awesome job and clearly stated. So many people need to read this and understand how deeply this is effecting our generation. I hate to see people use social media as an online journal when times have evolved. In college I won the Erica Jones Scholarship. It was an award targeted for only African American females on campus with financial need. Out of 50 girls I won because the founder (Erica Jones) said she googled me! And my Facebook was the only one that was clean and private. I had no clue she looked me up but I was thankful that upon applying for the scholarship (and whenever I apply anywhere!) I clean my Facebook of all tags and any rude/disrespectful comments or anything that could alter my image. This is a huge deal in our generation because people are ignorant to the consequences they will suffer from everything that’s on their social media pages. Twitter is becoming a big one also Whitney. Even celebrities mistakenly put themselves in a false light based on what they say and how they respond to people! Your media presence is the new, “first impression” in this generation. Good job Whitney! Thank you for spreading the news and bringing awareness to the community about this issue!

  5. Great tips! #3 is especially important for everyone. I think however if you ate young and are striving to be seen as a professional, I would caution against being over swept with social media updates especially with photos. You never know who will google you and see these pictures or crazy rants. Best bet is to leave your camera at home when you know you won’t be on your best behavior and save your rants for real life conversations not via computer screens.

  6. So important, I got on the bandwagon of inappropriate social media content and it is hard to stop, There are always people egging you on. Word to the wise! The best thing is to make sure you don’t get too involved in the posts, otherwise, you’ll end up being the joke of the day!


    1. I totally agree with you Chantel, inappropriate social media content is easy to fall into if you aren’t careful. Even if you are “liking” something rather than posting a comment, it can still be viewed by others – this is something many fail to realize. One can be the joke of the day but not understand it until they lose something because of their social media content. People will learn one day!

  7. This article is spot on. Whether one is
    frequently posted twerking at the club or contemplating the use of social.media for the first time, this advice is practical for all. Tips # 1-5 should be etched on every social media participants brain. Kudos Whitney for such a terrific article

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