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Home » Unemployment, Workplace Finance

Social Media Profiles May be Preventing you From Getting Hired

Last updated by on 11 Comments

A recent survey of 300 professionals involved in the hiring process indicated that 91% of them have used social media profiles to screen job applicants.

Amongst the three major social networks:

– 76% used Facebook

– 53% used Twitter

– 48% used LinkedIn

The breakdown may seem a bit surprising at first. Intuitively you may think that LinkedIn would be used the most, but Facebook has a much higher adoption rate and is likely to show a bit more of what you’re really about (LinkedIn essentially serves as an online resume with network connections).

Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for dirt on you! 69% of survey respondents have rejected candidates based on what they found in your profile. Reasons cited include inappropriate photos or comments, lying about your qualifications, drinking/drug comments, negative comments about your previous employers, and confidential information shared.

social media online reputation

Why are Recruiters Using Social Media Profiles?

This may come as a shock to you that employers are using your “authentic” musings against you, but it shouldn’t! Employee loyalty is fairly non-existent these days:

  • For ages 23-27, 75% of workers were with their employer for less than 2 years, and 88% less than 5 years.
  • For ages 28-32, 68% of workers were with their employer for less than 2 years, and 84% less than 5 years.

At the same time, the average cost of replacing an employing can be staggering – easily over 6 figures in many high-skill professions.

Is it any wonder that hiring managers are doing a little bit of digging online on the information that YOU put out there for them to see to help ensure that you would be a good fit for them?

How Can you Manage your Online Reputation?

You don’t want to fall victim to photos you posted from your drunken stupor that senior year of college or for some hate filled rant on Justin Bieber. Before you apply for any job, it would be wise to do a little bit of online reputation management.

Here are a few of the very least things you should be doing to protect your reputation on each network:


linkedin privacyClick the drop-down on your name and ‘settings’ to go through each of the profile privacy controls. Turn off your activity broadcasts. Select ‘only you’ to see your connections (otherwise recruiters may reach out to your connections to ask about you). Finally, clean up your profile itself, and make sure it matches what is on your resume.


twitter privacyClick the drop-down on your name and ‘settings’ and under ‘account’, click ‘protect my tweets’. This won’t protect you from what others are saying to or about you, unfortunately, so you have to be EXTREMELY careful about the activity trail that you leave on Twitter. Next, click on ‘profile’ and make sure you don’t have any incriminating statements about yourself.


facebook privacyThere is a lot of work to be done here and Facebook changes their privacy settings often. Click the arrow drop-down in the top right and then ‘privacy settings’. Start by changing your default privacy setting to ‘friends’ if it is set to ‘public’.

Next, go to ‘how you connect’ and start by changing who can look you up to ‘friends’. THIS IS KEY. Then change ‘who can post on your wall’ and ‘who can see wall posts on your profile’ to ‘Only me’.

Not done yet. Go to ‘how tags work’ and turn on manual tag review. Then change your maximum visibility to ‘friends’.

Next, go to ‘apps, games, and websites’ and click on ‘public search’. De-select others from being able to find you in search engines.

Now go to ‘limit the audience for past posts’ and limit past posts from being seen by others. VERY IMPORTANT.

You should be done. To be extra safe, go back and delete any posts or photos that may be used against you.

Google Plus:

google plus privacyThe best way to protect yourself on Google+ is to make yourself invisible in searches for you. Go to ‘about’, click on ‘profile discovery’ and de-select. There doesn’t seem to be a one-size fits all fix to being able to limit who can see what about you in Google+. Therefore, be very careful about what you post and with photos added.

Online Reputation Discussion:

  • To your knowledge, has a social media profile ever prevented you from getting hired?
  • If you’re on the hiring side, how have you secretly used social media profiles for screening candidates?
  • Have you protected your social profiles?
  • What tips do you have for others on how to protect your online reputation?

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I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • AJ says:

    Not sure if this applies in all states, but I’m fairly certain that using a social media site or other external database to do a background check which is not related to work history or criminal history is not legal. Any HR department that does this sort of thing should probably have a letter sent to the management outlining the situation. Personal life and work life have nothing to do with each other, and slanderous comments and in-jokes from your buds on facebook should have no bearing to that effect.

  • Busy Signals says:

    @AJ: In the US, most applicants have an explicit or implicit agreement that they’ll get their backgrounds checked; while it is illegal to use certain classes of information in hiring decisions (such as family plans, marital status, race/ethnicity, religion, etc.), not all non-work-related material is off the table and in any event a lot of items are still considered even when they legally shouldn’t be.

    I think many hiring managers and HR departments would also make the case that not everything outside of work history isn’t work related–if you’re considering hiring a 19-year-old college student but see dozens or hundreds of photos of them enjoying alcoholic beverages at parties, you know they are willing to break the law (as the legal age for possession/consumption of alcohol here is 21) and not particularly concerned about who finds out. While underage drinking is the norm in the States, broadcasting that you’re participating in such activities tells a potential employer something about you.

  • Robert says:

    This is another form of discrimination plain and simple. As it is, there is not a level playing in regards to race or sex (and I am not whining here, this is true and there have been many documented cases), but now what you post online can be subject to this kind of scrutiny? I think there are bigger questions about individuality and further intrusions into our lives by corporations. Isn’t it bad enough they get bailed out, and they buy and sell politicians and sell out the American people by shipping jobs overseas? All the corrupt stuff they do, and they expect their workers (or better yet, their subjects) to be so perfect?

  • Kasey @CheckAdvantage says:

    One thing that wasn’t mentioned in this post but was in the survey…

    While 69% of employers rejected applicants because of what was on their social profile, 68% actually CHOSE job candidates because of what was on their profiles – practically the same amount.

    If you’re having intelligent discussions about your industry, sharing valuable insights, posting pictures of yourself volunteering in the community etc. social media could actually help your case.

    It all depends on how you want to use social media sites and what image you want to portray.

  • There are even company’s that provide employers social media background checks. However, it is also important to note that your social media sites can also be an asset. You could showcase your best behavior. Social media background checks also provide information like volunteer work, awards and recognition.

    Employers get out of your social media information what you broadcast.

  • Ron Ablang says:

    I’m pretty sure that I have lost at least one job offer in the past not to social media (which didn’t exist back in those days) but to my online activities in general. My last name is everywhere. You could be researching me for weeks on what’s out there.

  • Kolton says:

    I really have no problem with businesses digging up dirt if they are thinking about hiring a new employee. I believe they should have the right to research on what type of person they are hiring to represent their company! Whenever I post something on the internet, whether its a social profile or something that will represent my business; I make sure it is with the up most professionalism and positives.

    I guess my point is this: Company’s really need to make sure they are hiring the ‘right’ person that is trustworthy and loyal. After all, one bad hire could significantly resent its reputation.

  • ProfitsOn says:


    Good post!

    Thank you.


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