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The Digital Student: Digital is employable

Employers are turning to search engines and social networks as a form of pre-screening candidates. This means potential employers could be checking out what you are doing online and how you present yourself! Sometimes such screening is done as early as the application phase before candidates are interviewed and the vast majority of employers perform such screening post-interview and before appointment. This makes your online presence very important for your employability.

If you have inappropriate content on your social media or anything that portrays you in a negative light it can really affect your job prospects. Check out the pages in this guide to make sure you do not fall for this trap!

Things to be aware of

Some of the points below may seem obvious, but the issues can sometimes be quite subtle and it is easy to make a mistake. It is also important to remember that even though you may be responsible online, others may not. For this reason, monitor what contacts write on your profiles, be careful with what content you share from other’s profiles and make sure you can trust anyone you send something sensitive to.

Most of these principles will apply to everyone, although some may be context specific. For example, if you’re applying to work as a pro-gun lobbyist in America, appropriate references to guns are probably not a bad thing. Likewise, opinionated and political comments may work for many political jobs. Just make sure they are appropriate to the context. The message is that while these principles work for everyone in a general sense, make sure you adjust them for the context you are in.


Over sharing

OversharingDo you share too much online? Potential employers may be concerned you may lack discretion. Inappropriate comments about current or former colleagues, bosses and employers is always a negative. Be careful about what you share online and who you share it with.

Profane language

It may be a social environment but some employers won’t like to see the use of profane or inappropriate language. If you post such language publicly they may be concerned it will happen in the workplace too.

Alcohol references

AlcoholDepending on the organisation, the occasional post about an alcoholic drink may not concern them. You need to carefully think what public image such posts portray of you. If you regularly post about drinking or heavy nights out and the hangovers to follow then you are seriously damaging your employability. Check your privacy settings and make sure you're not telling the world.

Inappropriate pictures

Those pictures of student nights, fancy dress parties and crazy nights out are good fun while you are a student - but who has access to them? Secure access to any profiles that have such photos and ensure you need to give permission to be tagged in future posts and photos. Do you really want your future boss seeing that photo of you dressed as Super Mario? Make sure any professional profiles you have like LinkedIn have use a sensible and smart photo of yourself.

Opinion, politics and spiritual views

Politics etcWe all have personal viewpoints, politics and spiritual views - Just be careful who you share them with. Certain careers may require you to be careful about sharing such beliefs. Civil Servants for example must be apolitical so any posts about politics are career threatening. You should also be careful about sharing anything that could be compromising.

Harassment or bullying of others

BullyingAnything that looks like the harassment or bullying of others is never acceptable. If any potential employers see such behaviour you will be out of the running. While this may seem obvious, you need to consider how inside jokes between your friends may looks to an outsider. If something can be misinterpreted then make sure you remove it. This includes things that you have not written but are posted onto your profile/wall. If you leave such things there, you are in effect endorsing it so be careful about what you leave there.

Lies and inconsistency

LiesMake sure you provide the same information across all the different websites you use. Inconsistency with details such as your qualifications and education may concern some employers, especially if your online profiles contradict your C.V.


This is certainly something your future employer and colleagues do not need to know about. Be careful what you post on public networks and keep your private life private. You should always avoid sharing intimate pictures or videos either publically or privately. It is too easy to lose control of such media and it can be very damaging to your reputation - let alone the potential embarrassment!


DrugsSimilar to alcohol, references to drugs can negatively impact people’s perception of you. Regardless of what you think of them, most employers would not find this appropriate.

Poor grammar and spelling

Spelling and grammarNo 1 wud leik 2 c this knd of lang. frm 1 of their employees

Keep the shorthand and text speak to texts. If you are posting anything publicly, think about how it represents you. The same principle applies to any form of professional communication. If potential employers see poor spelling and grammar on your online profiles it raises questions about your language abilities.

Turning your online presence into an asset

OK. So there are a lot of things to watch out for! While this can make online social media look problematic for employability, it can also be a great asset. Employers are looking for tech-savvy graduates. Check the other useful pages:

Careers and Employability Service:

These pages were developed in collaboration with the Student Futures. The Student Futures Team support all University of Hull students and graduates with all aspects of their career from finding out what you can do with your degree to practical support with interviews, psychometric tests and assessment centres. For more information, check out their website

Lies icon by Fonte (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Fancy dress icon based on photo by Cmglee (CC BY-SA 3.0)