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Career Success

How Social Media Can Hurt Your Job Search And Your Future Career

Written by Ieva Sipola
Ieva helps tech startups access big markets and is a passionate advocate of alternative work formats.
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It may seem that social media is your private network of friends and followers where you’d be able to post and share what’s really on your mind in a given moment. However, this assumption is misleading since these “private” activities of yours are there for everyone to see, including your potential employers.

Studies show that 90% of employers consider the candidate’s social media activity when hiring and 79% of HRs have rejected a candidate because of what they found on their social media.[1] Therefore, it only makes sense to pay attention to our present and past social media activity and not let our social networks harm our professional prospects.

If you are searching for a new job or considering a career change in the future, be aware of these 6 ways how social media can hurt your job search.

1. Having Offensive Posts or Tweets

It’s never a good idea to post disrespectful things, but it’s even more frivolous to do so on your social media accounts. A wise employer will go through your post history scouting for red flags like aggressive tweets, illegal stuff, very unpopular opinions, or badmouthing someone publicly.

Alternatively, you might have posted something that you believed in the past, which you don’t anymore. Or, you may have tweeted something you don’t mean in the heat of an argument.

The Tweet Deleter app analyzed and summarized over 200M deleted tweets in 2020 in an infographic and found that most deleted tweets contained either profanities or keywords related to race.[2] Giving a better impression to potential employers was one of the top reasons that Tweet Deleter’s surveyed users mentioned for cleaning up their feeds.


To improve your chances of landing the job you want, make sure your past mistakes aren’t still visible on your Facebook or Twitter wall.

2. Posting Controversial Jokes

Sharing jokes and TikTok videos is a favorite pastime for many people these days. If you too love to share funny videos, make sure their content is not dubious or potentially offensive. The most sensitive topics are usually religion and politics. The smartest thing you can do is keep your most contentious opinions (including jokes) to yourself and your closest personal friends.

Remember—even if you didn’t mean for something to be disrespectful, the person reading your profile might not understand your sense of humor or satire. What you share or say online is seen by many people who don’t really know you, so they may not always get it if something is meant to be a joke.

3. Complaining About Your Previous Employers Online

If you’ve had a rough day at work, don’t rush to social media to let off your steam. If a recruiter or your future boss sees that you’ve criticized your employer online (or shared some confidential information about your workplace), they’ll have every reason to think you’d do the same to them if they do hire you.

Even if you are, in fact, fully justified in your opinions and a client or employer really deserved to be publicly called out, lack of context is the problem here. It’s very difficult to convey the context of the situation on social media like Twitter where you are limited to 280 characters. Without context, you risk simply looking like a bitter employee.

So, next time you need to cry out about your boss, call your best friend or go for a coffee with a supportive colleague instead of bashing it out on social media.


4. Presenting a Negative or Provocative Image of Yourself

Another way social media can hurt your job search is when you create a negative image of yourself online. Social media is the place where you can polish your “personal brand.” Your potential employer (or even your present boss!) might browse your social media profiles to discover who you are outside of your work resume and professional job interview.

Look at your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feed with a neutral eye. Have you posted photos from parties with alcohol or other provocative or inappropriate photographs? Ambiguous tweets, instances of oversharing, or even simply being negative about everything could reflect badly on you. 51% of hiring managers admit that they’re checking social networks to see if the candidate will be a good fit with the company culture.[3] If you come off as negative to recruiters, they might decide they don’t want to work with you.

Try to keep your social media image and the content of your posts constructive and positive by sharing your hobbies and interests, being respectful, and presenting yourself as a social and well-balanced personality. Ideally, polish your social accounts (especially LinkedIn) to demonstrate your knowledge in your field of work.

5. Lying About Your Qualifications

A study by OfficeTeam showed that 38% of senior managers have removed an applicant from consideration for a position after discovering their lies.[4] If you’ve ever thought about spicing up your resume, for example, by giving yourself a higher role in a given company or showing a longer work experience than you actually had, be careful.

It may not seem like upfront lying if you “stretch the truth a little” on your resume or cover letter in an attempt to land a job. However, if you are caught, more than the job at hand is threatened. You may be hired initially and later fired with embarrassment once your lies are revealed, or worse, you could damage your reputation in your professional circles.

Some ways your social media can reveal your lies:

  • Dates don’t add up – If the recruiter has even the slightest doubt, they may call your previous employer, and—oops—you’re busted.
  • Posts don’t match your words – Does your CV say you got laid off a month ago? And there you are two months earlier posting images of sunbathing on a tropical beach somewhere far far away.
  • Your profiles are too vague – Experienced recruiters will see if you’re trying to disguise lack of experience by ambiguous phrases like ‘”I’m familiar with . . .” or “I’ve been involved in . . .” Even if this is not outright lying, expect the interviewer to ask some direct questions about your responsibilities to make sure you actually have the qualifications.

6. Not Having Any Social Media Profiles

You may have chosen to avoid social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for privacy reasons or to reduce your phone usage. If so, consider having a profile at least on LinkedIn as having no social presence at all can harm your prospects.

In this digital world, you are invisible online if you aren’t on any social media. Some employers might not see this as an issue while others might find it suspicious or might consider you to be out-of-date.

Furthermore, by not having any social presence, you are missing out on a chance to leave a positive impression on your potential employer. Some examples of social media moves that could create a very good impression about you:

  • You’ve connected to your industry professionals, leading experts, or media outlets on Twitter.
  • You’ve updated your LinkedIn profile with your detailed work history and relevant information.
  • You share industry news and discussions and have a solid professional network online.
  • You have a professional-looking or at least neutral profile photo.

Turn Social Media Into Your Strength, Instead of a Liability

Social media can hurt your job search or become an obstacle on the way to your desired career, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, a good social media profile can increase your chances of getting hired!

Besides, even your present employer may be checking your social profiles time after time and dislike something they see. For these reasons, always be mindful of what you post online, what and where you comment, and even who you follow.



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