Social media network concept.

It’s easy to be swept away in a fun night out with your friends and not think twice about posing for an “unprofessional” picture and posting it to your social media accounts. To any of your 1,500 Facebook friends or your 3,500 Instagram followers, this may seem like an innocent and familiar moment captured in time. To your prospective employer, however, not so much.

According to the social media recruitment survey conducted in 2016 by Careerbuilder.com, 60 percent of employers check out a candidate’s social media sites prior and/or after interviewing the candidate. Further, 59 percent of today’s hiring managers Google an applicant’s name or use other search engines to research a candidate further.

60 percent of employers check out a candidate’s social media sites prior and/or after interviewing the candidate.

According to the annual survey, here are the top 5 pieces of content that influence a prospective employer not to contact, interview, and/or hire a viable candidate:

  • Provocative photographs, content, or videos (your Las Vegas bachelorette party would have stayed in Vegas had you not posted every moment of it online)
  • Photos or content implying or affirming drinking or drug use (even if marijuana is legal in your state, you don’t need to post pics of yourself smoking it)
  • Comments, photos, or content that discriminates others because of their race, religion, gender, or sexual preference (even “liking” or “sharing” someone else’s discriminatory post can be detrimental to your career)
  • Content where the candidate is complaining, gossiping, and/or bad-mouthing his current or previous employer or colleagues
  • Poor grammar, spelling, and communication skills

That’s interesting. And scary.

It’s interesting to think about how others can perceive what you thought was just an innocent post; it’s scary because it means that:

  • no matter how awesome your professional resume reads and looks,
  • no matter how specialized your cover letter is to a particular position,
  • no matter what your GPA in college was, and
  • no matter how highly your references speak about you,

you could miss an opportunity to be called for a job interview or to be called back for a second interview simply because of what you chose to post about yourself and your life on social media platforms.

While it’s not recommended you erase all evidence of you anywhere on the internet (41 percent of participants in the 2016 social media survey shared they are less likely to interview a candidate if they can’t find any information about that person online), here’s what you can do:

  • Be mindful and purposeful about what you choose to post. Think before you press “send.” Is what you are about to post something you would be proud to have your grandparents see? If not, don’t post it.
  • Carefully go through each of your social media accounts and delete photos, comments, and shares that are even potentially offensive (you know which ones those are).
  • Sift through your list of “friends” on your accounts. If you have no idea who someone is, how you know them, or why you ever accepted their friend request initially, delete them. Prospective employers aren’t looking to see who has the most friends or likes, they’re looking to see who has integrity, common sense, and the right skills to fit with their company.
  • Delete all political rants. Sharing your political party online is simply inviting heated discussions, comments, and posts from any of your friends.
  • Start posting and sharing positive and relevant articles, blogs, and links that inspire others. Share appropriate pictures of yourself enjoying life with your family and friends.

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