9 Ways Your Social Media is Killing Your Career

social media background check

Before you snap and upload that picture of you drinking margarita #10 on the beach, think again…

A picture says 1000 words, and it can make or break your career. 92% of job recruiters are screening you on social media before they even consider hiring you.

When it comes to career prospects, suitors you hope to date, and headhunters, personal branding is everything. So, you better make a good impression.

Here are 9 sure ways to fail your social media background check.

What Does Your Profile Photo Say About You?

Actual Photo Analysis Results:

Age: 42
Ethnic: Black/ African descent
Attraction: 9.96 out of 10
Emotion: Happy
Results: Great Dating Photo


1. Being Too Self-Absorbed

The selfie. We are all guilty of them.

While the occasional shot is ok, avoid flooding your feed with pictures of your face. It sends the message that you are self-involved and have less imagination when it comes to expressing your lifestyle.

When you do choose to post pictures of yourself, make sure the setting is appropriate. No bathroom selfies, please. Take pictures that are high quality, high resolution and facial focused (not other body parts).

Keep your image rolls well-rounded, and highlight your lifestyle. These are things recruiters are looking for:

  • Hobbies
  • Travel
  • Social engagements
  • Culture
  • Current events
  • Community involvement
  • Staying up to date on trends that relate to your industry
  • Making a positive impact

Frequent posting can also raise red flags for employers checking social media before hiring. It can show your priorities are elsewhere, rather than on your job. The key is to find a good balance.

2. Partying like a Rock Star

Shot, shots, shots…should not appear anywhere in your profile shot.

The same goes for keg stands, beer bongs and other forms of hard partying. Employers looking at social media are not impressed and will pass you up for an interview.

You may be the responsible friend who DD’s, but if your pictures say “party animal” it can cost you a job.

Employers want to make sure you fit well with their company culture. Yes, you have a social life outside of the office, but it’s best not to promote your drinking habits.

Save the late night drunken posts for select friends on Snapchat.

3. Engaging in Illegal Activity

Stealing cars, trespassing, and speed racing are all hard no’s for social media screening.

Although some states have legalized marijuana, don’t share your smoking stories online. The same is true for narcotics and other hard drugs.

Anything of violent nature will also keep you from an interview. This includes imagery or written updates and tweets. You may be joking, but your potential employer will not see it that way.

4. Letting Your Accounts Get Stale

No need to update your status daily, but you should keep content and information fresh and up to date.

Your profile picture should be recent, not from the 1980’s. Contact information should all be current, including the city you live in. Be sure to edit privacy settings on Facebook to keep your private life private.

Your LinkedIn profile should have your most current job status. As well as up to date credentials, awards, and qualifications.

5. Being Absent on Social

Think you can hide under a rock and refuse all forms of social media? Think again.

Without a presence on social media, 57% of recruiters won’t even consider interviewing you.

In the digital age, it sends the message that you have something to hide. People may think you’re incapable of using technology, have a fake identity, or are running from the law.

Not having a profile picture or very few connections is also shady. Your profile picture makes the first impression, so it better be a good one. Follow these tips for snapping a great picture.

6. Being Two-Faced

Most people are guilty of tweaking their resume to appeal to a potential employer.

Your social media presence should be similar to the qualifications and personality of your resume. It shouldn’t seem as though you are living a different life.

Employers look to your social media channels for clarification. They want to see that you’re being honest. They’re checking that your qualifications, interests, and lifestyle choices match what you put on paper.

Don’t feel the need to posts pictures of you winning awards or volunteering at the local homeless shelter. Be natural, this isn’t about faking it until you make it.

Once hired, what’s the golden rule of posting on social media? Don’t lie about taking a sick day then post updates of your vacation.

7. Airing Your Dirty Laundry

Going on a Twitter tangent is not going to impress anyone.

What’s even worse is ranting about the company you work for, or your boss. Employers don’t value online ranters in the workplace. Leave your personal problems off social media.

Complaining about past or current clients and customers is also a social no-no. Same goes for sharing confidential information about your company or clients.

Public opinions about politics can cost you an interview. 51% of recruiters agree that posting a political rant is a huge red flag. You should also never discriminate against race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender.

8. Failing to Spellcheck

Remeber what you learned in grade school? Grammar and spelling skills still matter.

When using social media for hiring decisions, your tone of voice and writing skills count. Employers are looking at your communication skills, and how eloquent you are. For bonus points, post samples of work or a short review of a book you are reading.

Always check for errors before posting or updating your profile. When in doubt, use online tools such as Grammarly.

9. Showing Skin

Posting provocative pics won’t get you far in your career.

Nudity or graphic images of yourself or others is a huge no-no. Not only will your potential employer pass you up, but you could be banned from your account.

The same goes for explicit language. Use this rule of thumb: If you think your grandmother would get upset to see it, don’t post it.

Ace Your Social Media Background Check

Avoid these 9 fails, and you should pass your social media background check with flying colors.

You know personal branding is key when it comes to fielding job applications. If you want to wow potential employers, enlist a professional agency.

Once you’ve landed the job, don’t expect to have a free pass on questionable social media postings. The rules still apply, and your social media activity may still be under scrutiny.

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2 Responses

  1. This is excellent advice. The risk of assessing a person based on social media reviews is far greater than any potential benefits.

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