Should You Polish Up Your Social Media?

Whenever I meet with a student for a career counseling appointment, give a presentation to a class or chat with someone about their job search, I always ask if they’ve cleaned up their social media. Usually, my question is met with confusion because most people haven’t even considered the content of their social media accounts. However, once an employer receives an application, resume and cover letter, many head straight to social media to look you up. According to, as many as 60% of employers are using social media to screen applicants and learn more about their skills, professional information and who they are as an individual. Depending on what they see, this could affect whether you’re invited to interview with their organization.

At the UMaine Career Center, we want to see you land the interview, and go on to get the job. Before sending in applications, consider the 3 Ps when it comes to cleaning up your social media accounts.

Privacy: Social media sites are constantly updating privacy policies and settings. Do a thorough sweep to make sure your profiles are set to private, know who’s on your friend list and who can view your profile. Restrict access for tagging and posting to your Timeline, which will allow you to choose what content is shown on your profile page.

Photos: When considering a profile, cover and featured pictures, think about what those images represent. If your social media is locked down, a profile pic is the first impression a prospective employer may get of you, so make sure it’s a good one. Avoid using photos that are inappropriate, such as ones with alcohol or drugs (even if you’re of age or it’s legal in your state) and irresponsible or provocative behavior. Don’t post a photo with a glass in your hand. While you might know it’s only soda, it’s hard for an outside observer to know what that liquid is. Go through your photos and remove tags or delete photos that may seem inappropriate to a possible employer. Consider checking out your Instagram and Twitter accounts as well to see if there’s anything that should be removed.

Posts: While social media is an outlet to express yourself, do so responsibly. You wouldn’t want an opinion or statement made in the moment to be the reason you don’t get a job. Avoid making discriminatory comments regarding others’ race, religion, sexual preferences. Participation in chats or posts that are derogatory could lead not only to being rejected for a job interview, but also could result in offers to jobs, professional and graduate schools being rescinded, which recently happened to ten students admitted into Harvard. (Link to the word Harvard:  Even if you hated your last job or aren’t wild about a professor, don’t bad mouth your current employer, university, faculty or staff. Employers may be reticent to hire individuals who complain about the organizations they’re affiliated with in a public forum.

If you need some help getting your social media ready for the internship or job search process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Career Center. We would be happy to schedule an appointment to help you go through your accounts and answer any questions you may have. You can stop by our office on the third floor of the Memorial Union from 8-4:30 Monday through Friday, or give us a call at 581.1359 to schedule an appointment.

Chelsea Castonguay
Career Counselor