Keeping a Professional Social Media Presence

Monday, August 28, 2017 | Posted by: Alpha Kappa Psi

Nearly 70% of American citizens use some form of social media, the majority of them checking and posting on Facebook and Instagram daily. While you probably use social media to keep in touch with family and friends, to stay up-to-date on current events, and to self-promote, 70% of potential employers use social media to screen applicants. This blog post will explore ways to ensure that you maintain a professional social media presence without compromising your social side.

Screen Names

When you first set up your social media profiles, it can be tempting to create an online moniker that’s witty or even crass. DirtyKirty may seem funny when you’re thirteen and opening your Twitter account, but 22% of applicants rejected by social-media conscious employers were shown the door because of their screen name.  Kirt_Abel may seem boring, but it’s not as boring as being unemployed.

Images on the Internet

More than half of employers have decided not to hire a candidate based on content found on their social media accounts. Nearly 40% of the time, these rejections can be linked to provocative or inappropriate images of a candidate, including references to drinking or illegal drugs. The next time you are out on a Saturday night cutting loose, think twice before you post that video of yourself slurring karaoke.

Account Permissions

Unfortunately, it may not be you that posts questionable content, but someone might tag you in a photo, a meme, or other media that makes you look bad. This is where your account settings can be especially important. For example, Facebook privacy settings can allow you to preview any tagged content before it is posted to your page, and can even prohibit other users from tagging you at all. You’re also able to review photos that have been tagged and remove your association from any questionable content. Take advantage of these account options to make sure that unseemly images and footage don’t inadvertently prevent you from getting that coveted interview.

Facebook also allows you to limit the audience of a post. Take time to curate separate lists for separate posts. Personal details about a nasty breakup is information best shared with only close friends, but there’s no harm in sharing that stunning photo you took of the beach at sunset with the world at-large.

Proofread Your Posts

Texting shorthand has become a language all its own, and some trends are more acceptable than others. For example, news feeds frequently uses acronyms like ICYMI (in case you missed it), but you’ll rarely catch a professional website posting something like, “What to Consider B4 U Buy a Home.” In general, stay away from acronyms and trendy shorthand that can give employers the impression that you have lazy communication skills.

It’s also important to check your spelling and grammar before you post. Most social media platforms have spellcheck or an ability to edit text after the initial posting. But if you share a meme without realizing it uses your when it should be you’re, the post can reflect badly on your professional image. Double check spelling and grammar of both original posts and re-posts to make sure it’s correct before posting.

Avoid Emotional Over-shares

We’ve all been there – you’re frustrated at the office or your girlfriend just broke up with you and you’ve had a couple of drinks to help blow off some steam, and the next thing you know, you’ve posted three rants about the injustice of it all.  Over 30% of applicant rejections were reactions to discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, or previous or current employers. The need to vent is a natural part of the human condition, but so is letting go. By posting these feelings publicly on social media, you allow them to linger longer than they should.  

When In Doubt, Don’t Delete

After reading this, it may seem like social media accounts are a dangerous quagmire sure to leave you unemployed.  However, keeping your social media and online presence professional comes second only to keeping a social media and online presence at all. A whopping 57% of employers polled reported that they are less likely to interview an applicant if the candidate lacks an internet presence. Even if your online presence needs heavy pruning to eradicate unwanted content, don’t delete your accounts. Taking the extra time to carefully polish the face you present to the online community is worth the extra time and energy.

Share Industry-Relevant articles

Nearly 45% of employers hired a candidate because of content on their social media. Looking for a job in the tech industry? By following feeds relevant to that industry, and sharing and commenting on their content, you’ll seemed passionate, informed, and invested in the field. It will also help you stay in-the-know of industry trends and could even tip you off to more employment leads.


Do you have experience getting (or losing) a job with social media? Tell us about it in the comments.

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