Social media: Employers eye 'media footprint' during hiring choices

Jan. 18, 2018
Amber Auger, RDH, warns recent dental hygiene graduates to clean up social media profiles before applying for a job.

By Amber Auger, RDH, MPH

According to, 70% of employers have used social media, and 69% use search engines to screen candidates before hiring them.1 Social media accounts are becoming a key component that HR departments implement when deciding on who to hire, as social media can confirm or deny the qualifications of a candidate.1 More than half of employers found content on social media that caused them not to hire the candidate.

Think before you post

Remember that the entire world can see the photos that are on your social media. Even photos shared privately are not necessarily going to stay private. Additionally, the comments posted by your friends matter just as much as what you post. If the comments on a photo are inappropriate, those comments can negatively affect the “first impression” a potential employer is making through online research. We are in the health-care industry; therefore, the patients have access to search as well. You are your brand. So post wisely to prevent a negative connotation.

Studies conducted by CareerBuilder.com1 reported:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information: 39%
  • Candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs: 38%
  • Candidate had discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion: 32%
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee: 30%
  • Candidate lied about qualifications: 27%
  • Candidate had poor communication skills: 27%
  • Candidate was linked to criminal behavior: 26%
  • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employers: 23%
  • Candidate's screen name was unprofessional: 22%

Google yourself

Identify what information others find when they search you. Remove any Facebook photos that feature you in swimsuits, exposed midriffs, alcohol consumption, or any other photo that could compromise your professionalism. Often, default photos from email accounts and social media will be highlighted in search engines. Deleting all social media accounts when looking for employment is not the solution, as employers are often skeptical of the lack of “media footprint.”

Use social media to your advantage

Four out of 10 employers found their candidate through social networking sites. Utilizing social media to highlight professional skills, increase personal network, and identify opportunities for employment can result in obtaining the dream job you desire. Attending network events will also help to connect you with professionals in your local area, and allow you to post appropriate photos in business attire.

Investing in a professional headshot is the first step to promoting your professional skills to an employer. Despite the clinical experience you have or lack, an employment opportunity can be lost based on our online personas. Evaluating your online presence is the first step to differentiating yourself from other protentional candidates.

Amber Auger, RDH, MPH, is a hygienist with experience in multiple clinical settings, including facilities abroad. She obtained a master’s degree in public health from the University of New England and a bachelor’s in dental hygiene from the University of New Haven. She holds a part-time position at an elite dental office in Boston. She is a key opinion leader for several dental companies, a speaker, and a published author, and she can be contacted at

Reference Number of Employers Using Social Media to Screen Candidates at All-Time High, Finds Latest CareerBuilder Study. Available at: Accessed January 17, 2018.