By Marybeth Bock

Summer is fast approaching and many teenagers have already begun searching for a summer job. No matter what your age or the type of job you may be applying for, there’s a very good chance that a potential employer will conduct a background check on you.

In our digital world, the first step of that check, before even calling references that you may have provided, is a review of an applicant’s social media accounts. This is a quick and easy way for an employer to get an overall view and feeling for someone they are considering hiring.

And sometimes, all it takes is a few glances at an Instagram page for an applicant to be taken out of consideration for a job interview.  What exactly do employers not want to – or want to – see on someone’s social media accounts?

Here are some of the common posts and behaviors that can leave a negative impression:

  1. Pictures that show any type of illegal activity, like underage drinking or drug use.
  2. Inappropriate or provocative pictures, videos or information. (Does your post pass the “Grandparent Test?” If you wouldn’t want grandma seeing it, you don’t want a potential boss to see it either.)
  3. Any type of discriminatory comments surrounding race, gender, or religion. Even if something is a “joke” to you and your friends, it can easily be taken the wrong way by a stranger.
  4. Negative comments about a former boss, workplace, teacher or other authority figures.
  5. Unprofessional screen names or potentially violent comments/images.

If you are thinking you have nothing to be concerned about because your social media accounts are set to private, potential employers are usually still able to find out quite a bit about an applicant by accessing their friends’ accounts which are not set to private.

And while it might be tempting to simply delete your social media accounts temporarily while you are applying for jobs, this is not a good idea either. Employers may feel like you are trying to hide something and they want to be able to find out information about you before offering you an interview.

A good strategy, whether you will soon be looking for a job or not, is to delete anything that could be offensive or inappropriate, and instead use your social media accounts to showcase your talents, interests and positive inclusion.