Your Social Media Profiles and Your Job Hunt

by Brian DeBelle | Last Updated: March 15, 2014

We live in a generation where we get to read about what acquaintances from high school ate for breakfast in the morning on Twitter and see uploaded photos of our colleague’s weekend plans on Instagram (or snap-tik-agram whatever). Privacy and discretion have become ideas of the past, and we now live in a worldwide open.

Facebook has topped 1 billion users, Instagram has 130 million pseudo-photographers, and Twitter has 500 million Tweeters. This widespread community has employers scrambling to catch up. It is important for job candidates to understand the implications of social media and their employment potential.

Sure, you can modify your Facebook privacy settings and swap out the profile picture of yourself taking shots of tequila for a more wholesome photo of you and your puppy; but do you know the extent to which your social media profiles may be affecting your search for employment?

Social networking sites have become a primary and secondary focus of job recruiters. In fact, 90% of executive recruiters say that they conduct online research about candidates. Up to 70% of employers will decide not to hire someone based on what they discover about the candidate online. This includes not only what you advertise about yourself professionally on LinkedIn, but also what your social sites say about who you are.

Here are 5 tips to tailoring your social media presence for recruiters:

1. Find the perfect profile picture.

You don’t have to look like an angel (in fact, most employers want someone who knows how to let loose and have fun), but steer clear of incriminating and character damaging photographs.

Legally, employers and recruiters are not permitted to discriminate against applicants when doing their homework. But this is only in regard to factors such as age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy, and disability. However, a picture says a thousand words. Employers have free reign to look at unprofessionalism, inappropriateness, and character when screening candidates using social media sites. So don’t let anti-discrimination employment laws fool you – your profile picture can make or break an employment opportunity.

2. Nail your bio – and keep that portion public.

Social media users who are concerned with their safety and privacy tend to opt for strict privacy settings on their networking accounts. And we commend and respect that choice. However, freeing up the “bio” portion of your social accounts can do wonders for your candidacy.

Use your bio to tell friends and strangers exactly who you are. You can control the way you are perceived. Don’t be afraid to highlight all of your positive attributes and showcase your personality. If you’re witty, be hilarious. If you’re a deep thinker, be profound. Utilize this tool and stand out from the competition.

3. Flaunt your identity as a social media guru.

Don’t freak out and delete your social media accounts when it comes time to pound the pavement and search for a job. With today’s ever-growing technology, most companies are actively looking for employees who are well versed in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and whatever the next wave of networking brings. While tacky, negative or otherwise inappropriate social media accounts can kill a candidate’s chances of being hired, others can be extremely advantageous.

4. Update, update, update.

We all know how important it is to maintain an up-to-date resume, but do you remember to update your social media profiles as well? If your resume boasts your latest position as an account executive, but your Facebook occupation hasn’t been updated since your stint as a barista, you may have a problem.

If a recruiter is searching for you in San Francisco, but you haven’t updated your current city since you were living in Chicago, they may either be unable to track you down or dismiss you as a potential candidate altogether. So update!!

5. Check your network.

Kevin Bacon isn’t the only one who knows someone (everyone?) by six degrees of separation. These days it’s easy to find out if you know someone who knows someone. Check out the company you want to work for on LinkedIn. Take a look at some of the employees, and start searching to determine whether or not you have a mutual friend or know someone in the loop.

Take a look at your “likes” and the people and pages that you follow. Connect with the company by liking its pages and following its updates.