AC Online: College Student Guide to Professional Social Profiles

Social media is playing a larger part in how companies consider your employment. More hiring managers today are looking at applicants’ social profiles before making hiring decisions. Employers aren’t just looking for blatantly bad behavior, though. They also want to make sure you’ll be a great addition to their team.

In today’s competitive job market, it is important for you to stand out on paper, in person, and even online. In addition to impressive, easy-to read resumes and smart, personable cover letters, young professionals need to be aware of what they’re sharing on their social networks.

Besides avoiding negative behaviors, such as posting racy photos, there are things you can do to make yourself more appealing to potential employers. The guide below highlights key places on social profiles where hiring managers look for “red flags”, and offers quick and easy steps to help turn potential disaster into professional success.

The first things an employer is going to see when s/he views your Facebook profile are your profile photo and your cover photo. Be sure to choose pictures that paint clean, friendly images of an up-and-coming professional eager to earn gainful employment. For example, let’s compare these two profile photos:

Dos and Don’ts for your profile and cover photos

  • Do expect potential employers to scan your social profiles
  • Do have a clean, professional photo
  • Do show off a friendly personality
  • Don’t use offensive photos (anything containing nudity, alcohol, racial slurs, offensive language/signs, etc.)
  • How to change your Facebook profile photo:

  • How to change your Facebook cover photo

  • How to change your LinkedIn profile photo:

  • How to change your Twitter profile photo:

  • How to change your Google+ profile photo:

  • How to change your Google+ cover photo:

While the first impression might be the most important, employers are not going to stop after viewing your profile image. Your next step is to go through your activity log and delete or hide other potentially offensive content on your profile.

  • How to clean your Facebook profile:

    • 1. Click on the wheel in the upper left corner of your Facebook page.
    • 2. Choose privacy settings
  • How to clean your LinkedIn profile:

    • 1. Scroll through the activity on your LinkedIn profile page
  • How to clean your Twitter profile:

    • 1. View your tweet history from your Twitter profile.
    • 2. On the right side of your profile, click “Photos and Videos” to delete any tweets with inappropriate or offensive imagery.
  • How to clean your Google+ profile:

    • 1. Scroll through your Google+ profile to view your activity

Now that you’ve scrubbed through each of your profiles, go through and double check that comments made by you and your friends are also appropriate. Be sure that all photos (not just your profile image and cover images) are also appropriate; or, set your privacy settings accordingly.

  • Set privacy settings Not everything you share has to be seen by “Everyone.” Before you share any photos or links, check that it is only visible to you or your friends.
  • Scan other profiles Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn aren’t the only social platforms. Do you have any other photo and video sharing accounts?
    • Pinterest
    • Tumblr
    • Instagram
    • Flickr
    • YouTube
    • Foursquare
    • Other
  • Limit cross-profile sharing Pay close attention to what profiles you post to. Many social accounts, such as Pinterest and Instagram, allow you to post to Facebook or Twitter as well.
  • Google yourself Find out what other can learn about you by doing a simple search.

For better or for worse, your social media profiles serve as embodiments of your personal brand, and, as such, they are no longer idle playgrounds, but tools to help you get an internship, land a job, or attract future clients. Keep up your profiles by:

  • Posting updated photos of you and your co-workers at work functions
  • Share photos of you and your peers at appropriate school functions (volunteering, dictating your thesis, etc.)
  • Follow brands and blogs relevant to your field of study or the line of work you’re trying to get into
  • Share important news and analysis posts and tweets from influential brands and blogs within your field of interest.

Further Reading

For more information on ways employers are using social media and why it is more important than ever to keep your social profiles clean and professional, check out these additional resources:


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