The Job Seekers’ Social Media Trap

George Holmes
March 1, 2017
Clock Icon 5 min read

In this blog, we’ve teamed up with the experts at Blue Octopus Recruitment to look at the social media dos and don’ts when seeking out a new job.

Picture the scene: you’ve seen the perfect job advertised and you apply straight away. You reckon that you and the role are a match made in heaven. A week later, you get a phone call from the recruiter offering you an interview. The interview goes swimmingly, and you await a call to be offered the role.

But the call you receive is to say that you’ve been unsuccessful and, when you ask for feedback, it transpires that it’s down to something you posted about your current employer on your personal social media account.

When Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in 2004 as a social network for colleges, you can bet that he wouldn’t have thought every man and his dog quite literally would have an account in 2017. In this day and age, when applying for a role, it’s not just a CV that a recruiter will be looking at.

The Facts

  • More than 50% of employers and recruiters look at a candidate’s social media profiles prior to offering the position.
  • 79% of recruiters hire using LinkedIn, and of those who use it, more than 90% search for, contact and screen candidates based on their profiles on the site.
  • Over 95% of graduate employers featured in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2015/16 included social media as a recruitment activity.


  • Be aware of what you’re posting. Privacy settings are important on social media, if you haven’t set them correctly, then your pages are open for all to see.
  • Make sure you set up your pages so that only your friends and family can see your account and any updates that you may post, and not your potential new employer
  • You could however do some strategic liking of your prospective employer’s posts… That’s just fine to keep public!
  • Only post comments that won’t offend anyone. Even if you have set your account to private, you never know if one of your connections already works for an employer who you are trying to impress.
  • Be careful with what images/posts that you’re tagged in. Your friends might think it’s funny to tag you in some drunken photos from a night out. Recruiters and employers might not see the funny side.

Girl using phone for social media


  • Create a LinkedIn account if you don’t already have one. LinkedIn is the perfect place to be noticed by recruiters and showcase your talent. Make sure that it’s up to date and that you include any achievements and key factors to your current/previous employment. You never know who might read it.
  • If you’re trying to impress a recruiter or potential new employer, use the correct grammar and a formal tone (don’t crack out the jokes until you’ve scoped out the tone). First impressions count and bad social or written skills could work against you.
  • LinkedIn is a professional social network, so sharing memes of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, isn’t seen as a wise move. Your updates should be informative.
  • The summary on your LinkedIn profile is important. Make sure you sell yourself. You may well be ‘unemployed’, ‘seeking employment’ or a ‘job seeker’, but the world doesn’t need to know that. If you’ve just graduated and are looking to go into your qualified field, show it to the world. Showcasing your plus points is extremely important for recruiters. If you’re out of work, include your previous job title.
  • Endorse those in the same profession so that they’re aware of your profile. If your profile catches their eye and a role becomes available, they may get in touch.


  • We all have an opinion, and quite often we like to share our personal views with the world. The beauty of Twitter is that it is an open platform for freedom of speech, but sometimes this can also be its downfall. Don’t be drawn into debates that end up confrontational and abusive.
  • Follow the companies that you wish to work with. You never know, the information that they tweet may become useful if you get an interview.
  • Use the (#) hashtag search field to its full advantage, if you use #octojobs or #jobsearching or #jobhunting as a starting point, it will open up a lot of doors and help you along the way.

The social media trap on twitter


  • Don’t just take selfies and pictures of your dinner, show the world what you’re about. Your hobbies and interests can help at the interview stage: any recruiter who may have seen your profile can use your photos as an ice breaker.
  • Your Instagram account can be used as a live resume. Got skills in hairdressing? Share your proudest cuts and styles. If a potential employer likes it, they may get in touch.
  • If you are taking the live resume approach, make sure you use hashtags to reach people in your industry and increase your scope.
  • But if you don’t want your potential employer to see your photos, like with Facebook, make sure you change your privacy settings.

Bonus Tips

When writing your CV, you may think that it’s a good idea to include your own social media accounts and blogs. This is OK if you believe that it is relevant to the position that you have applied for, but if it isn’t, don’t add it.

Across all formats of social media whether its Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram make sure that your profile pictures aren’t inappropriate selfies or something that you’d find on a dating website. Remember, all profile pictures and cover photos are public, no matter what your privacy settings.

Make sure that all of social media profiles are up to date, from your job title to your current location. You should treat every platform as an extension of your CV.

Networking is often important for getting ahead, so utilise your social profiles for building and maintaining connections with people in your industry.

Don’t feel that you can’t have fun. You can, just be creative and honest. Just be aware that if your profiles are public, your next recruiter or employer could be seeing everything you post. Happy job hunting!

Further Resources: