Cleaning Up Your Social Media Act

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Misti was excited about the possibility of working for one of the most prestigious athletic departments in the country.  Two weeks ago the department’s football team cracked the top 10 in the national rankings and it appears the team will have a chance to play in a BCS bowl again at the end of this season.  The excitement, atmosphere, and buzz that engulfed the campus definitely sparked Misti’s desire to work for this larger-than-life organization.  Her enthusiasm and preparation came across as she interviewed for a position as an assistant in the compliance department.  In fact, her interview went so well that one of the search committee members told her that they were excited to have her as part of the department and couldn’t wait for her to start.

But – She didn’t get the job!!

You see, Misti was a fun loving person who was always the life of the party.  This was obvious when the committee did a background check on her social media, and found several questionable photos and discussions on her Facebook page.  A prestigious athletic department like this just couldn’t take the risk of hiring someone who could damage their reputation.  Misti was crushed, but she was also determined to change how people viewed her image.

The first thing Misti wanted to do was to find out what her social media sites showed, and then set a plan to clean it up.  One of her first findings was a research study that showed that 91% of employers use social media networking sites to screen prospective employees.  Of the sites that were searched, 76% were conducted on Facebook, 53% on Twitter, and 48% on LinkedIn.  But unlike Misti’s photos and discussions, the main reason for not hiring based on social media was due to finding discrepancies about a person’s qualifications.  Lying about their qualifications was the number one reason for a candidate having been rejected as an applicant.

Through further investigation, Misti found three ways to check her social networking sites.  The first is to enter a person’s name into a Google search and look at the images that come up.  If an image is displayed that doesn’t portray you in a positive manner, you need to delete the image or find out where the image is posted and have it removed.  A second method is to establish a profile through the “Me on the Web” site that is on Google’s dashboard.  Misti found that the third method for checking her social media is through the website  Reppler is a company that helps you manage your online image by having you run a test on various social networking sites.  The test shows your information in four areas: (a) Your impression in social media, (b) your networks, (c) any inappropriate content that was found, and (d) shows you any privacy and security risks that you’re exposed to.  Misti has cleaned up her online presence and is now happily employed in athletic compliance.

Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 8 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at


3 thoughts on “Cleaning Up Your Social Media Act

  1. This is a great post – thanks so much for this. I lecture in Sports PR in NZ & am a career practitioner, so this is VERY useful for students and clients alike. Thanks once again!

  2. Hi Howard,
    Just one more thing: can you please advise what the research study was that Misti found? I would be very interested in showing that to my students 😀 Regards Sam Y

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