Clean up your social media
Image: happydancing/Shutterstock.

Going for a job? Clean up your social media presence first

1 Dec 2016

Nowadays, recruiters will look for your online profiles before even reading your CV. So, how do we make sure our social media profiles are squeaky clean for potential employers?

We’re always warned to be careful about what we post on social media, especially when it comes to looking for a job.

A Career Builder survey earlier this year not only showed that 60pc of recruiters use social media to screen their candidates, but that more than a quarter of employers have reprimanded, or even fired, an employee for content they found online.

With that in mind, jobseekers will want to make sure their social media profiles are squeaky clean, to prevent any potential employers disqualifying them from a job race because of something stupid they said on Twitter a year ago.

The first step to cleaning up your online presence is to Google yourself. Use an incognito window to get a true picture of what someone new will see when they first search your name. Is it all positive? Does it reflect who you are? What about the image search? Candidates often forget about switching to the other search tabs, so be sure to give them a browse.

Write down anything you find that you deem unsavoury or anything that reflects on you in a negative way. You won’t be able to control it all, but it’s important to be aware of what represents you.

Check for videos as well and scour YouTube for anything incriminating, deleting where appropriate.

Once you’ve found everything you can and have written down the content of which you’re not a fan, it’s time to head to each of your social media profiles and start spring cleaning.


First things first: your privacy settings. A good rule of thumb is to block pictures that you have been tagged in from the public. Chances are, this is where most of your undesirable images are – when is the last time you put up a bad photo of yourself?

You can also hide extremely old albums from public view. Your potential employers don’t need or want to see you at your debs, and anything that old probably doesn’t accurately depict who you are now.

It’s safer to make the majority of your content private and visible only to you, not even friends in some cases. Think about the big office you’re about to step into. Are you willing to take the risk with that dodgy picture of you with all the wine when someone in the office could unknowingly be a Facebook friend or know someone who is? Better safe than sorry.

Why not just lock down your Facebook profile altogether? You can use it as an opportunity to present to your employer who you really are, should they go looking. Pictures of you looking respectful and professional, photos of you volunteering or statuses about the industry you want to work in gives them a positive glimpse of your personality.

Remember, Facebook has the handy option to view your profile as someone who is not your Facebook friend, so that you can screen yourself before sending your CV out.


If you’re a tweetaholic, this is where your true personality will probably show. Due to Twitter’s instantaneous nature, you’ve probably been guilty of sending off 140 characters without a second thought.

If you’re worried about what recruiters might find if they go digging through old tweets, there are a few things you can do.

First, delete your old embarrassing tweets. You can do this by simply requesting your Twitter archive via your settings. You’ll be sent a link to a database where you can easily search for embarrassing words or profanities.

You can also do this via the advanced search option, by entering your own profile and searching for keywords or phrases that way.

If you’ve been tweeting since you were a teen and you’re happy to eliminate anything from your angst years, you can use Tweet Eraser to delete everything you wrote before a certain date.

Once you’ve manually purged as many old, undesirable tweets as you can, you should scroll back over the last month (or three, depending on how often you tweet) and make sure they reflect you well. You should also make a conscious effort to tweet cautiously going forward.

Tweet about the industry, tweet valuable, thought-out opinions, and feel free to tweet light-hearted, funny tweets to show your personality. Just make sure they’re all tweets you’re happy for future employers to see.


If you think your Instagram is full of incriminating photos, the best thing you can do is privatise your account before applying for jobs.

If you have the time, scroll back as far as you can, deleting any unsavoury photos or any that paint you in a bad light.

Go through the most recent posts in particular and read the captions and hashtags carefully. The good thing about Instagram is the editing function, so fix any bad grammar or spelling errors you come across.

Watch those hashtags too – you don’t need your employer to see #winewednesday on your profile.


The joy of Snapchat is the automatic deletion of stories that prevents you from needing to go through an archive for this one. However, to be safe, lock your account down 24 hours before hitting ‘apply’.

To be on the safe side, assume that the moment your CV arrives in a recruiter’s inbox, they can immediately look you up. Once again, better safe than sorry.

Be sure to keep your Snapchat very clean (or simply empty) while you’re on the job hunt.


As a professional platform, you’ve probably kept anything unsavoury away from your LinkedIn profile as it is, but while you’re cleaning up your online presence, this is a good opportunity to put your best foot forward.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one and treat it like your online CV and cover letter. Make sure your photo is a professional headshot and not your best night out photo.

Fill in any blanks and give as much detail as possible about your jobs and experience. Finally, make sure you have a good headline. Think about it; if you could only use one line to describe your professional self, what would it say?

Some other things to look out for

We’ve shown you how to clean up, now make sure you know what to clean up. Profanities are a big no-no. We may all be adults but swearing is not necessary on your social media profiles and it doesn’t show you in a good light.

Look out for any references to drugs, alcohol, guns or sex. 43pc of those surveyed by Career Builder said references to drink or drugs would turn them off a candidate. Besides, it doesn’t look good if you’re frequently posting about drinking on a weeknight.

Watch for old statuses or tweets in which you complain about your old or current job. Bad-mouthing your employer doesn’t make the next employer want to hire you. Even frequent complaining about work in general doesn’t make you look like a good hire.

It may seem picky, but bad spelling and grammar will turn an employer off you. Double check your social media posts before publishing them and if you spot any mistakes during your spring clean, edit or delete them.

Going forward, it’s a good idea to use ‘On This Day’ or apps like Timehop to keep an eye on older content on Facebook. Delete as you go in future to get a head start on future jobs. You never know how far back someone might choose to go.

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Social media. Image: happydancing/Shutterstock

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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