Preparing for the Social Media Background Check

Before you begin the job search process, it is important to prepare your social media accounts for a background check. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, the most common reasons that employers decline to hire a candidate based on social media are inappropriate photos and posts, excessive drinking or drug use, poor written communication skills, badmouthed previous employer, discriminatory comments, and lying about qualifications. Employers want to ensure that the newly hired candidate will represent the company well, both in the office and online.

So which social media platforms does this include? The short answer is all of them. Most often, employers look at Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so let’s focus on those.


  • Profile Pictures and Cover Photos - Even when your account is private, the public will be able to see your current and past profile pictures and cover photos. Delete any photos that may be interpreted to be in poor taste.
  • Current Job and Current Location - Again, this information is available to the public even when your profile is private. Keep this information updated so that it correctly reflects the information on your resume.


  • Photos - Delete any photos that may be interpreted as inappropriate or discriminatory. This includes your cover photo, profile photo and photo tweets.
  • Tweets and Retweets - Delete any tweets or retweets that do not present you as a qualified professional.
  • Bio - Update your bio to best reflect your professional pursuits.


  • Experience and Education - The information in your Experience and Education sections should support, not contradict, the information on your resume. Keep this information updated so that it correctly reflects the information on your resume.
  • Groups and Influencers - Review your Groups and Influencers sections to determine if any may come across as ill-advised to your potential new employers.

The main take-away is to assume that anything you post to social media is visible to the public. If you wouldn't want your grandmother to see it or feel that the need to ask someone if it is appropriate, you should delete it. Make it a habit to regularly clean-up your social media accounts to avoid getting tangled in the social media background check.

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