Be Careful on Social Media—Many Employers Do Background Checks

Background checks are becoming more and more common for employers in every type of field and industry. Technology makes doing a background check easy for employers. There are different types of background checks, but many background check sources use social media history as part of their reports. Many companies consider social media to be a primary background check source.

Employers often use background check websites to order reports on potential employees. Many of these websites do a reasonably exhaustive search of social media history. Some employers, instead, do their background checks in-house. In this case, they almost certainly search for social media history.

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Keep in mind, even if you have all your privacy settings locked down, you have no control over what your friends and friends of friends post. Not being tagged in a post is no guarantee, as a reverse image search can still find photos you would rather an employer not see.

How to Clean-Up Your Social Media Presence:

If you are starting a job search, taking some time to clean up and lock down your social media presence is an excellent place to start. Use the following steps to check and clean up your social media presence:

  • Use incognito mode and Google yourself. Incognito is essential is it will show you what other people will see when they Google your name. Remember, an employer will have access to information that will help narrow the search like address and date of birth.
  • You can also set a Google alert to let you know anytime someone searches for your name. Just sign in to your Google account, then visit the alert center.
  • Remember that nothing you post on the internet is ever truly private. That said, take time to completely lock down your privacy settings on personal social media sites. On Facebook, check your “Who Can See My Stuff” setting and make sure that you limit it to only those you are friends with. Check the settings on your photos and albums, as well. Remember, anyone can see your cover photo and profile photo on any privacy setting so make sure those are appropriate for an employer to see. Twitter makes your tweets public by default. The “Protect My Tweets” option allows you to set your tweets to private so that only those who follow you can see them.
  • Check privacy settings on all other social media accounts such as Instagram, Tumblr, and WhatsApp.
  • During your job search, do not accept any friend request unless you are confident you know the person. Employers, or private investigators, have been known to use accounts to “friend” potential employees to see what they are posting.
  • Consider who is on your friend list. Some people have hundreds or even thousands of social media followers that they do not know or are mere acquaintances. If you have followers like this, then an employer might be able to see your personal account by simply asking someone you have on your friend list to view your account.
  • Many people have business and personal social media accounts. Make sure not to blur the lines between the two. Your business social media account should not have photos of anything even vaguely compromising, such as partying. You should be careful to never post anything such as a rant about your boss or other co-workers. These types of accounts should have an overall positive and professional tone. Make sure never to post political rants or anything that could be considered intolerant or hate speech. If it is not something you would say in an interview, then it should not be on your business accounts.
  • Clean-up and update your LinkedIn profile. Make sure that only the most up to date and relevant content is displayed.
  • Do not forget about any blogs or webpages linked to your name. Again, take down or hide any information on these pages that you do not want a potential employer to see. Search for the blogs or posts in incognito mode to see if they have been shared on other platforms as well.

You should take the above privacy measures before starting your employment search. The best practice is to not share anything on the internet that you are uncomfortable with a potential employer seeing.

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