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Are potential employers checking out your social media profiles?

You’ve got the perfect CV, your cover letter clearly shows that you’re the ideal candidate for the position and you’ve secured yourself an interview. You’ve covered all bases, right? Wrong!

Bosses are now using the popular social networking sites as a tool to double check how likely it would be that their potential new worker would take a sick day for being hung over or lying about their qualifications.

If you’re applying for a position in the digital industry, it’s very likely that the person interviewing you is going to have a good look at your social media presence to find out a bit more about the ‘real’ you.

Here are our top tips to ensure you aren’t caught out during the recruitment process:

1. LinkedIn is described as the social media site for professionals, so the key is in the title; make sure you keep it professional. Don’t have a dodgy display picture of you on your latest night out. An employer will not see this as you being ‘sociable’, so I wouldn’t suggest trying to use that argument. The best way to deal with your display image is to ensure that you use a simple head and shoulders shot of yourself. Smiling is optional, but make sure that you appear tidy and well-dressed.

However, this is not limited to the LinkedIn profile display picture, as they may take a look at your Facebook and Twitter accounts too. Whilst the requirement for these to appear professional is not essential, it’s important that you are not clearly drunk, smoking any illegal substances or running around with your underwear on your head. Fairly obvious, or so you would think!

2. One very common mistake is thinking that you can have a moan about your current employer on your Facebook or Twitter account and no one will ever find out. Even if your current employer doesn’t find out, it still won’t look good to someone who is looking at you as a potential employee to see you bad mouthing your boss, your colleagues or your workplace in general. This kind of behaviour will only demonstrate to your potential employer that you aren’t mature enough to deal with disputes in a reasonable manner and that you would rather moan about your employment issues on Facebook or Twitter.

3. The use of foul language on your personal Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account may not seem like an issue to you, but again, for a potential employer looking at any of these accounts prior to interview, the use of offensive language or controversial discussions will not improve your chances of impressing them. This is important because it is very difficult to make the right first impression at an interview, even without the interviewer sitting there with your profanities swimming around in their head. Equally, we’ve all been known to re-tweet, or share a dodgy joke on our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts, but perhaps you should think twice about posting them if they are offensive, not only as a common courtesy to your friends, followers and connections, but also in case a potential employer is checking you out!

4. Another famous mistake that a lot of people seem to make is to have a ‘sick’ day (you know, where you say you are sick, but you really aren’t) and then post the photos of themselves on various rides at Alton Towers or on the London Eye, all over their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Very silly! Unless you are a total recluse, it’s likely that you will have at least one or two of your colleagues on your Facebook or Twitter account meaning that they will see it and tell everyone else at work and it will eventually get back to your boss. You can actually get sacked for that! It’s unlikely that a potential employer will employ someone that has been caught out for lying to their employer.

5. Finally, if you want to keep your Facebook account an employer-free zone, then you need to look into the privacy settings on your account and ensure that anyone you’re not friends with can’t access your account. You can also set your account so that it doesn’t come up in Google searches and unless you have mutual friends, a potential employer will not be able to find your account. You can also check how different individuals can view your account, to ensure that if they were to stumble across your account the only information that is on show is your display picture, where you live and your gender. Nothing too incriminating there!

What can you do?

If you are about to embark on a job search, consider whether you might need to clean up your on-line account. Take a close look at your publicly accessible information, you can hide the details on most of your social sites; however, it defeats the object of having an account. It would just be far simpler to keep the content of your LinkedIn profile professional, as hiding your details will stop potential employers from being able to find you. On Twitter, if you do not want any potential employers to see your tweets then you need to protect your tweets, which will mean that the only people able to see them are those that you have approved and on Facebook, mind those privacy settings! If you have information or material you want to leave up but don’t want employers to see, at least put it behind a privacy wall.

Obviously, the use of social media to check up on potential employees is something that will always happen in this industry. Potential employers see it as a portal into your life that would not otherwise be visible through the interview. So, if you aren’t going to protect your accounts so that the evidence of your drunken nights out are kept from your potential new employer, then you need to make sure that your account appears professional at all times, because you never know when they might be lurking!

Barker Munro Recruitment has established themselves as leaders in their field. Keep up to date with us on Twitter and LinkedIn for news, content, blogs and career advice.