Nowadays, your social media profiles extend everywhere. Most people have accounts with Facebook and Instagram for personal use, and many others use LinkedIn to keep in touch with professional contacts. Traditionally, Facebook and Instagram have been focused on sharing parts of our lives with friends and family, but with new and complex privacy options, that information is much easier to spread than ever before.
When submitting an application for the home I’m currently renting, my landlord let me know that they would be carefully screening our online social media profiles before accepting our application. I had never heard of leasing companies doing so, but quickly understood why. My landlord wanted to make sure her potential tenants are not party animals or irresponsible, not into illegal activity, or posting crude language publicly.
Although landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants on terms cited in the Federal Fair Housing Act, they can absolutely check out your public social media profiles before accepting your application.
Here are a few tips to help you make a positive first impression…not only with your potential new landlord, but also with the online “public” around you.
1. Use privacy restrictions to limit your profile’s public access
In general, it is best to keep your personal social media profiles private for safety and security reasons. Check to ensure your pictures and posts are only available to “friends,” or to individuals you allow to view your profile. By increasing your privacy settings, you give yourself freedom to post what you want to a smaller audience, versus leaving your profile more public and having to tailor what you say.
2. Set high quality profile/cover photos & clean up your historical photos
Photos are crucial to social media profiles! For photos that you make publicly accessible, make sure they are the best representation of you. Choose photos that include your whole head and shoulders or full-body in a professional setting. Avoid images suggesting any strange whereabouts, illegal activity, or unprofessional behavior. Remember, this is what you are sharing with the world! Make sure it’s your best.
3. Watch your social media language
Not only are pictures critical, but posts and sharing are driving social media. If you have limited access to your social media, as we recommend, you can ensure your ideas and opinions are kept relatively private and in your controlled setting. Even so, refrain from crude or negative language. Remember that everything you post (even privately!) can be saved as screen-shots and shared, so only share things you would be proud to stand behind.
These tips should help you put your best foot forward to your new landlord via social media. Keep in mind that many employers do the same social media check. Remember, anything you leave public is searchable (and likely pops up after Googling your name!). To protect yourself, take a few minutes before you start your apartment hunt to clean up your social media feeds and refresh your privacy settings!