A lot goes into looking for a job: crafting a perfect resume, scouring job boards, reaching out to old colleagues and professors, attending community networking events, just to name a few.
But you also need to Google yourself—because potential employers sure are.
A study conducted by Career Builder found that:
- 57% of employers are less likely to interview a candidate they can’t find online
- 54% have not hired a candidate based on their social media profiles
- 70% use social media to screen candidates
Cultivating a professional online presence is crucial to successfully snagging the perfect job opportunity. College toga party pictures, drunk tweets, political rants, badmouthing former employers, and insensitive jokes that we thought nothing of at the time can now put a job offer in jeopardy.
Here are some strategies to clean up your digital presence as you prepare to seek out your next job opportunity:
Hopefully your LinkedIn profile doesn’t really need “cleaned up”; you should already be using it thoughtfully and professionally. Although LinkedIn will probably be the easiest social media channel to prep, it also may take the most work. Before you even come in for an interview, a company will stake out your LinkedIn profile and examine it to get a picture of your experiences and skills; therefore, you’re going to want your profile to look pristine. Your LinkedIn should go more in-depth than your resume, but be careful not to go too in-depth–you don’t want to blur the line between your professional life and your personal life. Here are a few things you want to make sure are included in your profile as you get ready to search for a new job:
- Research keywords. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to sift through potential candidates, so include words and phrases in your profile (especially your title) that coincide with terms they would search.
- Objective. Save room on your resume by using your LinkedIn to explain your career goals, the values you can bring to a company, what kind of position you’re looking for, etc.
- Add multimedia. LinkedIn’s summary and work sections allow users to attach photos, documents, and presentations to their profile. Instead of just talking about the website you designed for a client in your resume, you can display screenshots of the website or even link to it straight from your profile. Simply navigate to whichever section you’d like to edit and click the blue pencil in the right hand corner. Scroll down until you see the “Media” option:
- Skills and recommendations. Reach out to past or present coworkers to write recommendations and endorse your skills list. It’s one thing for you to say that you’re great at all these things, but it’s another for someone else to back up these claims. Having lots of endorsements and recommendations makes you a more credible candidate.
- Specifics. Be specific on your LinkedIn profile. Don’t be afraid to get personal, use a first-person writing style, and take up as much space as you need to in order to get your accomplishments across, as long as you stay on-topic. Unlike a resume, your LinkedIn profile doesn’t have to be limited to a page or two, so feel free to take advantage of this to dive deeper into your work experiences than you can on your resume. List any relevant awards, certifications, or nominations you’ve received as well.
More than likely, you’re a busy person and have other obligations besides playing around on LinkedIn all day. It can take days or even weeks to fully flesh out your profile, so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to work on this before getting serious about your job search.
Twitter is probably the social platform you post to the most…and probably the platform most likely to get you in trouble with an employer. With only 140 characters to send a message, things you say may not come across as you intended. Additionally, sharing content is easier on Twitter than any other social media channel, so it’s easy to look like you’re endorsing questionable content, jokes, or images.
Unless you’re a very infrequent tweeter/retweeter, it would be next to impossible to go through and delete everything you’ve ever tweeted that could raise a hiring manager’s eyebrow, which is why it’s easiest to simply set your profile to private. To do so, click on your picture in the upper right-hand corner and select “settings and privacy” from the drop-down menu. Then, navigate to “privacy and safety” on the left hand side and click “protect my tweets.”
Keep in mind that tweets you “favorite” are also publicly viewable, unless you protect your tweets.
That being said, Twitter can and often should be used professionally. Twitter is a great way to stay on top of industry trends, promote your creative work, get in touch with influencers, and connect with others at conferences and events through hashtagging. There are so many benefits to having a professional presence on Twitter, which is why many people opt to have two Twitter accounts: one for friends, family, and questionably appropriate memes, and a separate professional account. If you don’t want to delete or completely overhaul your current profile, it’s probably be best to set that one to “private” and create a new, public account you can use professionally.
Unlike Twitter and LinkedIn, Instagram is not normally used by individuals in a professional manner unless you’re a photographer, designer, or artist; therefore, it probably isn’t necessary for you to keep your profile set to “public” if you have any questionable photos in your feed. You can toggle your account to private by going to your profile and clicking the gear symbol in the upper right hand corner.
Additionally, Instagram now gives you the option to archive photos, which hide pictures from your profile without deleting them. Archived photos can only be seen by you and you can un-archive them and display them on your profile at any time. Simply select the photo you want to archive and click the three dots in the upper right hand corner.
If you choose to remain publicly visible on Instagram, anyone can view photos in which you’ve been tagged. To manually select which of your tagged photos appear on your profile, simply make your way over to the “photos of you” tab on your profile and click the three dots in the upper right hand corner and select “tagging options.” This will allow you to individually review photos you’re tagged in and decide whether or not you want them to appear on your profile.
Fortunately, Facebook has so many customizable privacy options that you can literally hand pick what content is available to whom. If you have the time (and the energy), you can go through all your posts and manually select what audience can view that particular post. To do this, simply locate which post you’d like to edit and click the icon next to the date and time you posted it. From there, you can choose whether you’d like for the post to be made available to the public, limited to your friends, or only viewable by certain people.
There is, however, a much easier way to make everything you’ve ever posted accessible to only your Facebook friends:
- Log into your Facebook account and click on the “down” arrow in the blue header
- Click “settings”
- Select “Privacy” from the menu on the left
- In the section “Who can see my stuff,” click “Limit Past Posts,” then “Limit Old Posts”
This is a very quick way to limit the audience of everything you’ve ever posted, including profile/cover photos, status updates, and content you’ve shared from pages/other accounts.
For the creative folks out there, Pinterest is a great way to organize everything from DIY projects to recipes to home decor to wedding planning; however, Pinterest is also an underutilized marketing platform. Another place to showcase your infographics, writing samples, or any other visual media, Pinterest can be a great tool for job seekers…but perhaps you don’t want employers seeing a board of all the alcohol recipes you want to try, or your tattoo board full of partially-clad models. The good news is that it’s really easy to make certain boards only visible to you: all you have to do is a select a board, click “edit,” and toggle the switch over to “Secret.”
Presenting your best online self to hiring managers takes a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth the effort. Adjusting your privacy settings, creating separate personal/professional accounts, and deleting questionable content are all viable solutions–you just have to figure out what works best for you on what platform.
Best of luck, and happy job hunting!