Consumer Reports: Polish up your social media accounts before your next job search

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- These days, potential employers look at a lot more than your resume - they're also scoping out your social media accounts.

To find out more about you, potential employers will likely go through your social media accounts with a fine tooth comb. And Consumer Reports says there are a few things you can do to put your best cyber-foot forward.

Jeanette Torres says the first lesson she learned in Grad School was Social Media 101.

"The very first thing they told us was change your email, clean up your Facebook because we have checked and your future employers will check also," she said.

She's got that right. A CareerBuilder survey this year found 70% of potential employers used social media to screen candidates and more than half didn't hire someone because of something they saw.

"...Maybe drug use, inappropriate comments, or illegal activity," said Donna Rosato, Consumer Reports Sr. Money Writer.

Of course there are limits on how they can use what they find. Federal law bars employers from considering a person's race, religion, disability or age when weighing candidates - even if they glean that information on Facebook.

Other rules vary state by state. It's against the law in some states for interviewers to ask you for your passwords, while others might resort to something called shoulder surfing.

"That is when the employer will have you open up your social media account and literally stand over your shoulder checking out your page," said Rosato.

Still, one way or another, potential employers will be looking, so Torres polished her profile, starting with pictures.

"I put my professional cap on and I looked through my profile pictures and I said, I don't know, I kind of took that when I was 16 and I'm really not the same person," she said.

As for photos other people post of you, you can't delete them but you can untag yourself. You can also use your page to carefully craft the image you want employers to see.

"For example maybe you do a lot of volunteer work," said Rosato.

In other words, accentuate the positive and eliminate and untag the negative.

And remember your profile picture and your email address are the first thing employers will see, so make sure both are professional.

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