Avoid Social Media Pitfalls That Can Hurt Your Career

How you use Facebook and Twitter can be hazardous in a job search

If you’re looking for a job, are you aware of how important your social media presence is? A national study by Jobvite Job Seeker shows that more than 90% of employers investigate candidates on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. People who were hiring changed their minds after looking at these profiles more than 40% of the time. Are you aware of what your social media says about you?

There are many ways to protect yourself, and it’s good to be aware of the range of hazards. Here are some guidelines to follow, to keep yourself looking professional in social media:

Don’t talk about raises or how much you make
Talking about your salary on social media is a taboo topic. If you make a lot, it can sound like you’re bragging. If you’re whining about making too little, you sound like a complainer. Either way, potential employers will see you as indiscreet.

Be aware that your politics can make you undesirable
Make sure that anything you retweet on Twitter or share on Facebook is something you’d be willing to acknowledge in person to a potential employer. If you cringe at the thought of having to own up to it later, maybe think twice about firing off that tweet.

Don’t just delete your accounts
If you’re guilty of a bunch of these things, you might think it’s better to have no social media profile. Wrong. Take the time to go through and delete individual posts or tweets that are compromising. It’s good to have a presence, and it can look suspicious if a prospective employer can’t find you anywhere online.

Don’t showcase drinking or use of illicit drugs
Social media isn’t the place to brag about your weekend of binge drinking or what you might have taken a hit of at a concert last night. Remember: You want to present yourself as law-abiding and responsible, even when you’re having fun.

Avoid jokes that make fun of women, minorities, ethnic groups, or religion
Even if you are a member of one of those groups, this can be a red flag to an employer—it might seem that you are willing to tolerate talk that can get them in trouble with another employee.

Be careful of breaking confidentiality or privacy violations
This is especially important if you work in healthcare. You should never post any identifying information about someone’s health without their express permission. In general it’s a good idea not to break anyone else’s news on social media. Once they have posted about it, it’s fair game. Until then, keep it to yourself.

Google yourself
If you Google your own name every few months, you’ll come across what others will see, too. This can provide useful information. Maybe there’s a photo of you out there that you can ask someone to take down. The ultimate question is always: Would you be happy if a prospective employer saw that information about you?

We hope this has been helpful as you navigate your social media profiles in the context of a job search. There is always more to learn, but keep in mind that it’s good to err on the side of caution.


This post is part of the weekly blog of the Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health. We care about the personal and professional lives of our students. Learn more about the variety of training programs we offer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *