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As exemplified by the departure of executive John Demsey from Estée Lauder after posting an insensitive post on his personal Instagram account, social media can affect anybody in the workforce. It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned executive or a newly college graduate who is just now entering the workforce, social media can dramatically impact your work life and ability to find a new job. Thus, appearing professional and appropriate on social media is imperative during the job search because employers and recruiters will always look you up on social media. 


While it may feel tricky to present yourself correctly, we’re going to look into seven frequent mistakes that job seekers make when posting to social media and offer solutions for ensuring that your online presence is sleek and professional.

  1. Not Having an Updated Online Presence

In a world that is rapidly evolving, internet presence has become more prevalent than ever, and the biggest mistake one can make is to have an outdated profile. Not having social media or having an outdated appearance means that you are passing up the opportunity to present yourself professionally. At the very least, you want to make sure that you can be seen on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to demonstrate that you have a foundational understanding of technology while making yourself much less mysterious. There is no need to post frequently, but you want to ensure that your bio and profile pictures are up to date and look professional.

  1. Posting Illegal Activity & Anti-Social Behavior

Avoid posting anything that insinuates illegal activity or antisocial behavior such as trespassing, violence, illegal substances, etc. Before making a post, think to yourself, “Is this something that could harm my professional image?” You want to also archive or delete any posts that feature illegal activity and any media where you are legally under the influence. Even though adults can legally partake in drinking and recreational drugs in certain states, posting videos while intoxicated can harm your image as a professional while in the job search. If you feel unsure about deleting a certain photo or video, then it’s best to go ahead and archive the post. Some personal moments should be kept private and never leave the camera roll. 

  1. Not Using Privacy Settings

Similar to mistake #2, you want to check your privacy settings. While we strongly recommend cleaning up your social media of past blunders and unprofessional content, we also suggest adjusting your privacy settings to further ensure that only friends and accepted followers can see what you post. Overall, privacy settings protect you from identity theft and online scams, so even if you delete any inappropriate content, you should still enable privacy settings to protect yourself.

  1. Roasting Previous Employers/Colleagues & Complaining

Simply put, recruiters won’t hire people that they feel could tarnish the reputation of the company. Thus, it is important to not publicly roast your previous employers and colleagues on social media and to keep any kind of quarrels private. Even if you feel like your ailments with a previous employer are justified, publicly outing them on social media hurts your hireability and makes you look like a risk. You should additionally avoid complaining about your job in general because nobody wants to hire someone that manifests negative energy. 

  1. Fostering Controversy

In a diverse social landscape that has become greatly polarized, you should avoid posting any kind of statements or media that foster controversy. While you certainly have the freedom to exercise your rights and voice your opinion, you might want to forgo discussing sensitive subjects during the job hunt because recruiters are searching for candidates that are team players. Posting controversy may cause recruiters to hesitate, and while holding in opinions may be difficult at times, this is one of the best proactive measures you can take to build a strong first impression with recruiters and hiring managers. 

  1. Oversharing Personal Information

Some things are better left unsaid, and oversharing is a constant problem on social media. While it is more than okay to give status updates, post photos from the weekend, or wish your friends happy birthday, oversharing occurs when you reveal excessive detail of personal matters. This can include discussing intimacy within relationships, venting about personal problems, sharing embarrassing photos, regularly posting everything that you do, etc. Personal matters should be kept between yourself and people that you really trust, and there is no need to constantly document everything that you do on social media as well. By avoiding oversharing, you demonstrate to the recruiter that you establish boundaries and display professionalism. 

  1. Using Incorrect Grammar & Inappropriate Language

Recruiters and hiring managers are seeking candidates that are well spoken. Ensuring that you are using correct spelling and punctuation with polite language demonstrates that you are able to professionally convey your ideas. Please be kind to people online, and avoid using foul and crude language including expletives, slurs, and particular slangs. 

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