You’ve likely heard advice about cleaning up your social profiles so that an employer won’t find questionable photos or unwise rants. At the same time, your personality is what’s driving your social feeds and your connections with friends. Here’s how to stand out while still passing the future-employer test.

If you’re on social media, you’re there to connect with people you like, voice your opinions and share cool ideas or finds with others. Of course, like everyone, you want to show your personality to your friends. But when you’re in job search mode, too much of the wrong thing on social media makes you stand out to employers – except not in a good way.

When you apply to a job, many employers love to sleuth out “hidden” information on candidates, starting with a Google search. A recent Careerbuilder survey showed that 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring. Finding information about you is easier than ever, across any and all of your social accounts.

According to career expert Marika McCann, “You can easily have a fun and engaging social media identity but still also control what employers find out about you.  It’s important to be yourself, and know how to manage your social profiles so they also look good to hiring teams. The trick is knowing what employers are looking for – and what they specifically don’t want to see – and making sure you’re covering those bases.“

Think Like a Recruiter

Think about what recruiters/employers might like seeing (post more of these with a “public” setting), and also what they might not (restrict these to just your friends).

Imagine you’re the recruiter, looking for someone to add to your team. Of course, you hope to find someone who’s a good team player, helps others, stays focused and positive, and keeps an even keel.

Here’s what to share publicly:

-Posts you share about good customer service (check you out: you share praise! You know how customers should be treated! )

-Volunteerism (who doesn’t love a volunteer?)

-Positivity (they’re evaluating whether they want to see your smiling face in the break room every day)

-Professional posts (articles, ideas, etc. that show you care about your work)

-Exercise, sports, ongoing hobbies (shows you have discipline)

Here’s what to hide (set all these posts to “just friends”):

-Personal posts or games/quizzes/fantasy leagues on social media during normal work hours (even on your lunch break)

-Complaining about pretty much anything (who wants to sit across from someone with a perma-scowl?)

-Political, religious or sexual content (too risky for an employer)

-Photos where you’re the life of the party, but not in a good way (’nuff said)

-Negative posts about your workplace or how tired/bored you are at work (hint: those OMG WHEN WILL FRIDAY BE HERE posts)


Show some, restrict some = best of both worlds

Here’s why this works: Your friends will see ALL the posts – so you get to keep your personality, and your employers will only see the public ones that you’ve carefully added into your feed here and there.


We’ve also included some helpful tips for each platform:

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

✓ LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the most likely to come up first in a Google search when an employer looks for you, AND recruiters spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. Don’t skip out on this platform. Plus, if an employer sees you’ve taken care to make a professional LinkedIn presence, you may get less attention on your other social media accounts.

Make sure you have a strong LinkedIn profile – with a professional picture – and that you take the time to make your profile interesting to employers, and share industry-related content.  

Control your privacy on Facebook and Instagram

People typically use Facebook and Instagram to connect with family and friends, so these are the platforms most likely to have pictures and posts that just aren’t appropriate for a prospective employer to see.  

Facebook and Instagram often change privacy settings, so even if you’ve looked into your settings before, make sure you’re up to date with the latest security/privacy settings.

Make sure to check privacy settings on Facebook and Instagram often! When you post more personal content, set the default to “Friends” so that only those you choose to be connected with can see your posts.

Develop both a personal and professional profile on Twitter

Many of us tweet to connect with others on a personal level, but Twitter can be a great place to connect professionally as well!  One popular option is to have two different Twitter accounts, one for personal connections and one for your professional profile. You can keep your personal profile private with settings and make sure your professional profile is public for the public to find.

If the idea of managing two separate accounts sounds overwhelming, you can now go back and delete old tweets that may appear unprofessional with free services such as TweetDelete.

Edit Settings With YouTube Videos

YouTube holds countless videos of people’s parties, stunts, failed household experiments, and lip sync escapades. If at any point you’ve uploaded personal videos onto YouTube, did you know that the default setting is public and your wild side will show up in a Google search?  

To manage your settings, go to “Privacy Settings” and choose the option for “private” or “unlisted”. Unlisted videos and playlists can be seen and shared by anyone with the link, while private videos and playlists can only be seen by you and the users you indicate.  


Control Your Social Media Accounts so They Don’t Control Your Job Search

As you can see, actively managing your social media accounts is important to let you keep your unique identity and still manage what information employers can find out about you online.

Stay strategic and smart about what you post, how it’s posted and where it’s posted.  Even though you may be tempted to share questionable things that your friends think are funny, think again how they may be interpreted by an employer who doesn’t yet know the real you.