Nearly Half of all Employers do Social Media Searches on Candidates

Last week I saw 2 occasions where candidates had been in the running for a top job in their field, but after the companies did a search on their social media channels, which is fairly normal practice these days, they were instantly counted out the process.

A recent survey by CareerBuilder has indicated that almost half of all employers do a search on their candidates through social media.  The main things I believe they would be looking out for are; dodgy photos, negative attitudes toward others and companies, and any illegal activity!  It is not just candidates they are searching for either, some may check up on existing employees to ensure they are not embarrassing the company – companies are increasingly asking their employees to use social media accounts to spread their news, so this practice will happen more and more often.

Whether it is a jokey comment from years ago or someone else posted something on your wall, an employer may view it in a bad light so be sure to “clean” your profiles or better still, change the privacy settings.  Here’s how to;


Go to your settings and click privacy.  There are several settings in here that you can change, who can see my stuff? Who can contact me? And who can look me up?

Changing the settings won’t eliminate older posts so check these as well and delete anything you wouldn’t want a future employer to see.  Accessing your activity log means you can see everything that some else has posted to your wall and un-tag yourself if inappropriate.

Be sure to make your profile as professional as possible because even if you stop search engines being able to look you up, this can take time to come into effect. 


Go to your settings and select security and privacy. Here you can change who can tag you in photos. You can preapprove the people who can see you future tweets, so check your older posts and delete any that may affect your chances of getting a job. And finally decide if you want people to be able to find your profile via your email.  


LinkedIn’s privacy can also be changed by going into privacy and settings and click review. Here you can change your activity broadcasts, decide who can see your activity feed, decide if someone can see when you look at another’s profile and if they can see your connections. You can change your profile and photo visibility, hide the “viewers of the profile also viewed” box and manage who to block.


These are the 3 most common sites but there are many more so be sure to check every social media site you have an account with. It may seem obvious, but people are still forgetting to do this and it’s affecting their chance of bagging a job.

Remember to test the settings are working.  When you’re posting to social media, whether you feel it is completely personal, I would always recommend being professional as you never know who could be watching even if you have updated your privacy settings!


What if it’s too late?

What if you have already been caught out with something you wrote on social media? Screenshots can easily be taken of your posts and if it’s something huge (even if unintentional) it can spread like wild fire so try to pre-empt it when going for an interview, even a troll can damage your reputation but don’t let it stop you!  If you do get to the interview stage and the question comes up be honest, say exactly what happened and why it has been misunderstood.   

Have you had any experiences with an unfortunate post? How did you deal with it?

You may also be interested in Do's and Don'ts when asked, "Do you have any questions?" in an interview