By Bruce Powell, Toronto Recruiter & Founding Partner

Social Media is a powerful tool … for good and for evil. As quickly as it can boost your presence, it can also tear it down. What you post on your social media profile can put you out of the running for a job you want, or even cost you one that you already have.

Most recruiters and headhunters will check your Social Media profile.

78% of recruiters will type your name into a search engine to see what comes up and 63% will look into your social media sites as well.

A simple search by a recruiter or prospective employer can pull up all your social media profiles – your blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, FourSquare … well, you get the picture. Within a matter of minutes they’ve got a solid glimpse into your life; and they may not always like what they see. It’s not a matter of how many friends you have on Facebook or Twitter followers, but what you post. Inappropriate photos, derogatory remarks and even spelling errors and grammar mistakes can leave a bad impression.

Here’s 5 tips on how to avoid serious Social Media profile fails that could stall your career.

Watch out for Facebook folly.

Unfortunate photos posted online have lost athletes major endorsements, embarrassed the British Royal Family, and run politicians out of office. Very simply, don’t post embarrassing or inappropriate photos. Even if you delete them, someone may eventually be able to dig them out of an internet archive. Remove tags or postings by friends that may be funny, but aren’t professional. Make sure your Facebook Privacy Settings have got you covered and limit who your photos can be shared with.

You are what you tweet.

How much trouble can you get into with 140 characters? Surprisingly, a lot. So be careful about what you say. There are numerous examples of people who have lost their jobs because of a few poorly chosen characters. Avoid rude comments, derogatory remarks, profanity, offensive jokes and making light of world tragedies.

Coming soon – downloadable list of tweets.

A recent post in Mashable suggests that curated Tweets will be downloadable by the end of this year. If you can download a record of your Tweets, so can potential employers and recruiters. Want to say something nasty? Phone a friend!

What is Google saying about me today?


Google yourself regularly. Keep all your social media profiles up to date and if you see something you don’t like, figure out how to remove it. Make sure the positive things you’re doing get noticed as well by blogging about your volunteering efforts, organizing fundraising events, running a marathon, travelling to foreign countries to donate your time and skills, etc.

Develop a split personality with your Social Media profiles.

It can be a good idea to create separate professional and personal profiles. For your personal one, use a different display name and set your profile settings to private. If a potential employer manages to stumble onto it, they won’t see anything that might reflect badly on you. But even though it’s private, still be careful about what you post there.

Your online presence paints a picture of who you are to the world – just make sure it’s what you want the world and your employers to see.

(For other suggestions on how to portray yourself properly to recruiters and employers, check out our post How To Lose a Job Offer Without Even Trying.)

IQ PARTNERS are Toronto-based recruiters and leaders in executive search with over 20 years experience connecting smart people and great companies. We specialize in mid to senior level recruitment in a variety of sectors including Legal, Financial, Marketing (including Social Media) and more. To view current job opportunities and register with us, visit our Current Job Opportunities page. If you need to hire better, hire less and retain more, visit our Find A Toronto Recruiter page.

Bruce Powell Executive Search

Bruce Powell

Bruce co-founded IQ PARTNERS in 2001 and currently operates as Managing Partner. His personal background includes hands-on management experience in sales, marketing and marketing services. He has built management teams for a wide variety of marketing, communications, media and technology companies. He has also participated in several M&A transactions for service-based companies and is frequently called upon as a resource in the planning and negotiation of such deals.

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