is your social media profile helping or hurting your career?

Conducting a Social Media Audit, Part 1

Your online social media profile can positively or negatively impact your job search. While social media is currently more important in private sector employment than federal, do not let sloppy management of your social media affect your career! This audit will help you evaluate whether your online accounts are helping or hurting your chances of employment.

More than half of employers say they have rejected an applicant because of what they have found on the jobseeker’s social media profiles.

You may have accounts on multiple social media services — LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Instagram — and more. The most important, from a job search perspective, is LinkedIn. We will assess all your social media accounts, but there is a separate section for evaluating your LinkedIn presence.

In general, you want to avoid controversy on your social media accounts when you are in the midst of a job search. That means avoiding religious or political status updates or shares and “scrubbing” posts that show you engaging in anything that a prospective employer may find offensive or inappropriate.

There are five steps in this audit. The first is to establish what is already out there about you — locating and documenting your profiles. The second is to evaluate your presence on existing social media channels. The third step focuses on your LinkedIn profile specifically, since LinkedIn is an important tool in your job search. The fourth step helps you assess whether you should set up additional profiles. The final step is to take a “big picture” approach to your social media accounts.

Not only is it important to have some kind of social media presence, but you also want to evaluate what that social media presence says about you. Does it present a positive or negative impression of you? Does it establish you as an expert in your field, or a thought leader?

STEP ONE: Google Yourself

Log out of your Google accounts (i.e., Gmail, YouTube, etc.) if you have them. Clear your browser cache. Then, Google your name.

Hint: “Think like a hiring manager” when conducting your Google search.

Start with just your basic name, but narrow it down by including your geographic location (“Jane Jobseeker Omaha”) or job title (“Jane Jobseeker public relations”) if you have a common name. But don’t try to get too specific or you won’t be seeing the same results that the hiring manager will see when he or she Googles your name.

You may wish to conduct two or three searches and answer the following questions and/or fill out the worksheet a couple of separate times to see the different results you receive.

Answer these questions:

What is the total number of responses Google came up with?

How many images or videos of you are on page 1?

Are there any endorsements from others about you on the first page of your Google search results? (Yes or No)

Next, for your first 1-3 pages of search results, assess each result with the following information: Source, whether it pertains to you, and whether the impact is positive, negative, or neutral. Use the worksheet on the next page to rate the first 20 results in your Google search.

Now, assess your total scores.

How many YESES do you have? In other words: How many of the results listed are about you (and not someone else)?

Next, assess how many POSITIVE results you recorded. Are at least 70% of the results that are about you positive — or at least neutral?

If you have negative information about you on the first page of your Google search results, you will need to do some work on your online reputation management. One of the best ways to do this is to claim your social media profiles (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and to publish content (i.e., writing articles, being published in periodicals associated with your profession, writing LinkedIn posts, etc.).

You can also use an online tool like the Reach™ Online ID Calculator™ to assess your online presence. You can find the tool here:

Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.