The internet has become a way of life, and many of us have multiple social media accounts. We use these to stay in touch with friends and family and to find out what’s happening in the world. We also share information with others, including our opinions about life and current trends.
Social media is a place where we can be ourselves and let our personalities shine through. However, it’s also a very public forum where anyone and everyone can see what we’ve posted. When applying for jobs, this could have an impact. This may have you wondering how to do a social media background check on yourself.
What Is a Social Media Background Check?
Before answering the question about how to do a social media background check on yourself, you may be wondering: What is a social media background check?
In general, this is the process that employers use to learn about a potential candidate after they’ve applied for a job. Think of it as a kind of background check that uses the free, public information that is available on the web.
More often than not, the company will perform this search towards the end of the hiring process, perhaps right before they give you an offer. The goal is to find out information about you that can’t be discovered through traditional means.
When you apply for a job, the application or your resume highlights your skills and experience. At the interview, you put your best self on display. You aren’t exactly lying about who you are during these processes, but you’re only highlighting your best qualities.
Companies know that there is more to you than what they see on a piece of paper or what you tell them during the interview. That’s part of the reason why they conduct background checks. They want to see what else you’re made of.
That’s also why they have started conducting social media background checks. The belief here is that they’ll be able to catch you in a more relaxed atmosphere, where they can truly see you being yourself.
Are Social Media Background Checks Legal?
For many, the thought of having their social media accounts scrutinized by a potential place of employment is troubling. There should be a separation between their professional life and their public life — and that’s true to an extent.
However, far too often, social lives impact professional lives and vice versa. We do our best to maintain these separate spheres, but we don’t do a very good job. It’s also important to keep in mind that no matter how much you want your social media profiles to be private, they aren’t.
Even if you set your settings to only be seen by certain individuals, if that information is shared on a friend’s page that doesn’t have the same privacy settings, others will be able to see it.
When it comes to whether social media checks are legal or not, they are — if used correctly. Any time you post something onto your social media sites, it is part of the public domain. If there’s something on your profile the hiring committee doesn’t like, they can use that as an excuse not to hire you.
However, there are certain things that the company cannot hold against you when conducting a social media background check, and these are referred to a “protected characteristics.” The items that fall into this category include:
- Medical history
If they find any of these items on your social media page and use them to disqualify you from the job, that is considered to be discrimination, and that is illegal.
If you happen to have some questionable social media posts on your account that may impact your chances of getting hired, take some time to clean up your accounts. However, keep in mind that even though you delete these from your profile, they are never truly gone.
Why Are Social Media Background Checks Conducted?
Before heading out and learning how to do a social media background check on yourself, it’s helpful if you know exactly why people conduct social media background checks in the first place. Here are some reasons why:
To Determine if You’ll Fit the Company’s Culture
Anymore, companies aren’t just looking for an employee that has the right skills and expertise. They want to know if you’re going to fit in with their culture.
By looking at your social media posts, they’ll be able to get a better idea about your thoughts, feelings, and values. Your posts will give them an idea of how you might behave within their organizational setting and how you’ll represent the company to the world.
To Discover Any Violent or Sexist Rhetoric
Our society is becoming more sensitive to rhetoric that glorifies or supports violence or sexist behavior. Workplaces are becoming more diverse, so it’s important for companies to provide all of their employees with a safe working environment.
Even if you don’t express your thoughts and opinions at work, the fact that you have these ideologies could become problematic, so most companies will shy away from any potential employee that shares posts that condone violence or sexism in any way.
To Look for Positive Qualities
You may think that the only reason a company does a background check is because they are looking for reasons not to hire you, but they look for positive qualities as well. You may be hesitant to share your love for animals or charities with the interviewer because you might be humble, but they’ll see those things on your social media and know that you’re a good person.
They may even discover through blog posts that you upload to LinkedIn that you are a good writer. Maybe you have a YouTube channel with videos where you explain complicated ideas in an easy-to-understand manner.
Employers value good communication, and they’ll be able to see this skill in action when they conduct a social media background check.
How to do a Social Media Background Check on Yourself
If you find yourself getting ready to apply for jobs or you’re curious how others see you, you may be wondering how to do a social media background check on yourself. Thankfully, this process is quick and easy. Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Open a Browser
The first thing you’ll need to do when conducting a social media background check free is to open a browser on your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone.
You can use whichever one you prefer.
Step 2: Go to Google and Type in Your Name
Once you have the browser open, if the page doesn’t default to Google, go to this search engine.
In the search bar, type in your name and then hit enter.
Step 3: Peruse the Results
When asking how to do a social media background check on yourself, after hitting enter, the list of Google results will appear. At the top should be your social media profiles.
To see how others view you, click on each link to see what pops up.
One thing to keep in mind when doing a social media background check free is that many sites require you to log in to see what’s been posted. Since this will get you into your account, you may not be able to see what others see.
Consider having a friend log in with their account credentials so that you can get a better idea of what a company might see when looking at your posts.
Employers may use social media to decide if they want to hire you, and you need to be careful what you post, but don’t become so obsessed with making sure you look good that you become someone different. You can still be yourself on social media, people want to see the real you, but be aware of what you post.
How to do a Social Media Background Check on Yourself: Use a Screening Service
The easiest and possibly best social media background check is to do a Google search. This allows people to get a pretty good idea about what social media sites you’re on and the types of posts you upload.
However, it’s not the only way. Some companies might employ the use of a screening service to help them. You can use this option as well. Although, you need to keep in mind that you may have to pay for this search to be conducted.
There are a variety of different companies that will conduct pre-employment social media checks. Finding the one that offers the best social media background check will require some research.
How to Get Your Social Media Ready for a Job Search
Now that you know employers will more than likely conduct social media checks before hiring you for a job, in addition to learning how to do a social media background check on yourself, you might also want to prepare your social media so that you are putting your best self forward. Here are some things you should consider doing:
Be Aware of What You Post
When it comes to your social media posts, be aware of the persona you are portraying. If you want to be viewed as a responsible, professional individual, then you might want to rethink posting numerous photos of you out partying with your friends.
It’s also a good idea to think twice about sharing posts or creating posts that others might view as insensitive and divisive. Remember that it’s hard for people to determine intent through the computer. You might post something as a joke, but if people don’t know you, they won’t realize what’s going on, this could be detrimental.
Not only should you be watching what you post, but you need to watch what your friends post as well, especially on your wall. You may not be able to control their actions and thoughts, but you can stop them from putting things on your social media page that could be construed as offensive. It may not be fair, but people judge you by the company you keep.
Show Off Your Skills and Expertise
Most social media platforms are in place to keep in touch with family and friends, but there are some that allow you to show off your skills and expertise (especially LinkedIn, but you can use the others to your advantage as well).
In addition to showing off what you’re capable of through posts, make sure your profile pictures are professional and consistent across your social media accounts. You want to highlight yourself, so make sure you’re the only one in your photo. You should also be smiling and dressed appropriately. You don’t have to use the same profile photo for each of your social media pages, but use similar ones so that you are easy to recognize.
Using social media to show off what you know can help you look good to employers and may be what puts you at the top of the hiring list.
Social Media Is Part of Life
Social media has become so ingrained in our society that it is part of who you are — who we all are. Companies will do a social media background check to see if you’re worth hiring, but before that happens, if you’re wondering how to do a social media background check on yourself, here’s what you do:
- Open a Browser
- Go to Google and Type in Your Name
- Peruse the Results
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How to Do a Social Media Background Check on Yourself