How your social media activity impacts your job search

Last updated: April 24, 2024
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Kai Dickerson
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How your social media activity impacts your job search
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How your social media activity impacts your job search

Find out what potential employers are discovering about you from your online identity. And get concrete advice on how to manage your profiles so you can get the job.

We all know that we spend a significant amount of time interacting online—very often through social media—an average of two to three hours per day.

But by 2021, more than 3 billion people are expected to be active on social media. What does that mean for your job search? For better or worse, your work and personal life are easily searchable online. So if you’re looking for work, it’s important that you are putting your best foot forward on your social media accounts.

Let’s take a look at the importance of your online presence and how you can build it.

Don't have social media profiles?

If you don’t have an online presence — you may want to think about building one.

Hiring managers do expect to see some evidence of a social presence online; in fact, nearly half of hiring managers report that if they can’t find an applicant online, they are less likely to call them in for an interview.

If you are in this boat, now may be a good time to make a profile right here on Jobcase or another social media platform.

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Hiring managers are looking at your online presence

Potential employers still check personal and work references and verify employment histories provided on applications. But in addition to these methods, they now have another way to get a sense of a future employee’s qualifications, interests, and temperament. All they need to do is check what’s on their social media profiles.

Back in 2006, just 12% of employers reported checking out job candidates online, but now, more than 93% of employers screen candidates this way. It makes sense, too, especially since the majority of employers recruit new candidates this way.

What you may find surprising, however, is that 57% of employers report having eliminated candidates as job contenders — or in some cases, have rescinded job offers — based on what they have found on their social media profiles.

What can you do with this information? Make sure that your digital profile and social media presence are fully job-ready.

What hiring managers are looking for

Have you googled yourself? If not, you may want to try. When screening job applications, searching a candidate’s name on Google is one of the first things that hiring managers do.

Next, most employers will move on to the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

What are they looking for? Believe it or not, employers are not only looking for negative things. They’re also hoping to find positive examples of online engagement that would support an applicant’s overall job chances.

Most importantly, hiring managers want to see evidence that you will be a good fit for not only the position to which you have applied but also for the company itself. Do your social profiles indicate that you have experience in a particular industry? Do they highlight the qualifications you claim, like professional licenses or certifications? If you are applying for work with a non-profit or community organization, do your profiles exhibit your interests in certain causes or campaigns?

Things in your digital profile that may raise concerns

An important rule of thumb is this: don’t post anything online (text, pictures, etc.) that you wouldn’t want the world (or your mom!) to see. Even if you delete something you have posted after thinking better of it, it never fully disappears online.

Not only can content be screenshotted and reposted elsewhere, but through the use of search tools like The Wayback Machine, your old posts and online content can be found if someone is conducting a thorough search.

Overall, potential employers don't want to see posts of a sexual nature, things with profanity, or glorification of drugs and alcohol. Hiring managers also may disqualify applicants who post things that are racist or those which target specific groups.

Comments or posts that are overtly negative or complaining may also raise red flags because an employer might question your ability to act with diplomacy and positivity in the workplace, so think carefully about what you want to share and with whom.

Employers report that the following methods can be helpful for cleaning up your online presence:

  • Don’t post anything publicly if you wouldn’t want everyone to see it

  • Less is more when it comes to sharing details about your life

  • Avoid complaining about employers or coworkers on social media

  • Before posting anything, ask yourself what your goal is

With this in mind, think before you post!

What you can do to improve your digital profile

If you’ve made some missteps online, there are still some things you can do to improve your digital presence.

For starters: Google yourself and see what comes up. Are there any things that you need to be proactive about addressing?

For example, if there is negative content that appears associated with someone that has the same name as you? If so, this might be something you should address with a hiring manager. For example, if your Google search results show negative content like arrest warrants or social media accounts that aren’t yours, this could be something good to bring up during the interview process.

Next: Do a sweep of your social media accounts. Delete anything objectionable. Manage the individuals and businesses you are following or who follow you. Change your settings to private.

Moving forward: Start engaging thoughtfully online. At the end of the day, engage respectfully with others online. Think of social media as a tool that can enhance your job prospects as well as increase your connections with others.

How to build your personal online brand

An online brand lets you take control of what people see when they look you up online and what message they receive. You can develop a clear vision that represents your character and your goals. How you act online and how you brand yourself can signal to employers that you’re a quality candidate for their positions.

Here’s how you can build a personal brand online.

1. Discover your brand

Think about what past employers have complimented you on in the past. Those comments can indicate the type of brand that could work well for you.

What are your biggest strengths? What motivates you to do your best work? And most importantly, what do you want to be known for?

The answers to these questions will help guide you in the development of your personal brand. When employers land on your Jobcase profile or other social media pages, they’ll get a first impression of you as a person. At this stage, you should decide what you want that first impression to convey.

When you build your profile on Jobcase, make sure you include these skills and characteristics. You can also upload your resume to your profile so that it’s easily visible to potential employers. And, you can get tips from other job seekers on how to build a profile that best represents you in the Jobcase community.

2. Develop your audience

If you want to develop a strong brand that increases your career prospects, you should start thinking like a company thinks about its customers. In this case, your customers are your potential employers. Those people are the audience you need to think about.

To figure out who your ideal audience is, you need to ask yourself a few questions. First, what is your ideal job? For example, do you want to work from home? Do you see yourself working in a specific industry, like the foodservice industry?

Depending on who your audience is — who your potential employers are — you’ll know how to adapt your brand to what they want to see in an employee.

For instance, employers in the foodservice industry will value polite, patient, friendly, and service-oriented people. But employers who hire people to work from home may instead value self-starters who can keep themselves motivated and organized even when they’re on their own.

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3. Research your industry

Based on your ideal job, do some research to find out what’s happening in that industry. No industry is ever stagnant.

Find out who the thought leaders are and inform yourself of their opinions. Follow them on social media and on Jobcase so that you can keep up with them.

4. Curate relevant content for your social profiles

Share other people’s posts when they’re relevant to your industry and brand. This will be much easier if you’ve done your research and started following relevant industry thought leaders.

You should also share your opinion on recent events that impact your industry. You can do this by interacting with other Jobcase users and commenting on their posts or by sharing your own posts with your community. It’s important to inform yourself on what thought leaders think, but having your own point of view shows employers that you can think for yourself.

5. Register a domain name to get a professional email address and a website

Find a domain name with your name if it’s available. If you can’t find .com, use another one, like .me. For example, if your name is Jane Doe, you can use janedoe.com or janedoe.me.

Your website can act as an online resume on which you can sell yourself and your experience and professional goals. Don’t overthink the design — just make it easy for potential employers to find out more about you.

Once your website is live, don’t forget to add it to your Jobcase profile.

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Take control of your social media activity

You’ll have much better chances of impressing potential employers if you’re intentional about what you post on social media. Remember to sign up for Jobcase to grow your social media presence in a positive way and interact with a community of like-minded workers.

Do you have tips on managing profiles? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Manda Institute for Counseling Services
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Thanks for the article, very helpful insights. It's time I created my own website domain. I have not given out the best of myself, I never thought of myself as BRAND to brand and sell.

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George Odom
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Cst Substance Abuse Specialist at Pathways

I looked mine up and much of it was false. I told them to remove it they didn’t have my permission. I am going to talk to a friend who is a lawyer. I might have consented to a few select advitisers. I never gave it for publication.

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Jess Green
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Buyer at Mwi Pumps

I read through this article and I must admit that I feel a bit uneasy with the sad but true fact that potential employers comb through SOCIAL media , I understand that we all have a digital profile, but it is supposed to be SOCIAL, having the average use of most folks as a fun, entertaining tool in today's digital world. So when one is in the early 20's out partying with the gang taking half naked pics with the bottle of Jegermester acting like fools but having the absolute time of their lives should one day need to be concerned that a HR person is going to dismiss a candidate because they were not careful to keep their
SOCIAL profile professional. What a shame that this is where we have come to as a society. There are SOCIAL media profiles for business that I can understand the hiring parties intrusion as that is what the business profile is at least partially intended . I find it an intrusion of one's SOCIAL and family life to have some company combing through my intimate life (I can hear all of you but it is already on line) , passing a criticism on what is not exactly private but not in any way part of ones buisness life. This is just my two cents

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Debbie McClellan
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Social media is NOT a reliable way to check out someone. This should be considered discrimination and not allowed.

4y
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Mahamed Sulub
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Healthcare nurse

Thanks for sharing

4y
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Jacinta Muthoni
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I have been applying for a job since last year up to date no response I need help I'm very stressed I don't know what to do

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Abhishek Jaiswal
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I need for a job in foreign countries

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Ford Simpson
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Jack of all trades,.master of none

Are employers that trusting of social media? I tend to be in the camp that most of what you read about a person is embellished to a degree. I don't include you or the other Jobcase workers, you seem sincere and are helping others. My information about me is what you will find in my resume or what I tell you during an interview. I think employers rely to much on social media which can be false. Interesting article which gives me much to think! Be well,Ford

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