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Popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter may have started as a way for you to banter with buddies or taunt friends with your enviable culinary prowess. But if you’re looking for a job, the way you present yourself on these platforms could make or break your chances with hiring managers.

Social media networks have increasingly become a valuable, time-saving tool for both employers and job seekers, revolutionizing hiring practices. Seventy percent of employers used social networking sites to research job candidates in 2018, according to a national online survey conducted for CareerBuilder. The sample included more than 1,000 private-sector hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

Because you never know when a potential employer might be vetting you online, it’s important to keep your personal brand professionally appropriate while strategically using social media to find a job.

Why using social media in a job search is essential

Not only do your friends and family appreciate your social media activity, but 20% of employers say they expect job candidates to have an online presence. Nearly half of the respondents in CareerBuilder’s survey admitted that if they can’t find you online, you’re less likely to be called in for an interview.

Wondering how employers in your field feel about this cyber recognizance? Broken down by industry, 74% of those in IT and 73% of employers in manufacturing are more likely to do social media digging on potential job candidates. Fifty-nine percent of those in retail/non-retail sales admitted to doing so.

Create a social media job search hub

Employers don’t confine their online research to only social media sites, however. About 66% stated they use search engines to scope out potential job candidates.

The first step is to create some sort of central hub that showcases your skills and experience. This might be a personal blog or website where you can position yourself as an authoritative source in your sector. It could be an online portfolio at hosting sites such as Contently for writers, DeviantART for creatives, Crevado for photographers and videographers, or a LinkedIn profile for business professionals.

All of your activity on social channels should point back to this carefully curated portfolio that demonstrates you have the qualifications for the position you’re after. Be mindful of both the quality of the samples you choose to display and how you present them visually. Both speak to your ability to exercise discernment when making important decisions.

How to use Facebook and Twitter in your social media job search

Casual social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are great for giving employers a peek into your personality, but you want them to see the creative, positive aspects. Finding that a candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information was the primary reason employers gave for not hiring a job seeker in CareerBuilder’s survey.

When using social media to find a job on Facebook and Twitter, be proactive and engage in discussions. Put yourself on the radar of hiring organizations in your industry by following their pages, commenting, and re-posting high-value content. Build your online presence and raise your visibility in a thoughtful way, positioning yourself as an influential, high-quality contact others want to engage with.

Leverage your friends and other personal contacts to help you find job leads. Spread the word that you’re seeking new employment opportunities. Consider private messaging if you don’t want colleagues or management at your current place of employment to know you’re job hunting.

Letting LinkedIn connect you

The No. 1 choice of savvy companies that use social media to recruit, LinkedIn is loaded with networking opportunities. It’s a great venue for sharing your accomplishments and showing off your professional skills. Fifty-eight percent of employers stated they hired a candidate after finding background information that supported their professional qualifications for the job, so let your LinkedIn light shine.

LinkedIn can be very helpful for researching companies you’ve had your eye on. Learn more about each company’s mission, values, and who to contact for the position you’re targeting. Are there existing contacts in your network who might serve as a bridge to these decision-makers? Performing research on the companies you’re interested in lets you modify your LinkedIn profile to better demonstrate why you’re a qualified candidate who can add value to the company culture.

Get a start on LinkedIn with these steps:

  • Use your existing resume as a jumping-off point for your profile, listing education, experience, and skills.
  • Highlight professional organizations you belong to and volunteer work you’ve done.
  • Use the LinkedIn profile summary to grab the reader’s attention with a compelling opening statement in the first three lines. What’s the No. 1 thing you want recruiters or hiring managers to know about you?
  • Optimize your profile with terms and industry keywords a recruiter might plug into a search bar.
  • Ask colleagues or employers you’ve worked with to post recommendations for you. These are attention-grabbers, and 34% of employers in CareerBuilder’s survey stated they heavily weighed what other people posted online about a job candidate.
  • Send out invitations to “Link In” with potentially helpful professional connections.

Keep your personal online brand squeaky clean

Let this sink in: 22% of employers cruising your online portfolios are looking for a reason not to hire you. Don’t give them one. Remove all profanity, references to sexual topics, discriminatory comments, and mentions of alcohol and drug use from your social media accounts. Clean up your spelling and grammar, and polish your online communication skills.

In CareerBuilder’s 2019 Annual Survey, 92% of employers said soft skills, such as communication abilities and critical thinking, were important in determining whether they would hire candidates. The top attributes they want to see are:

  • Strong interpersonal, team-oriented skills — 51%
  • Sharp attention to detail — 49%
  • Good customer service — 46%

This means no negative rants bad-mouthing coworkers, managers, competitors, or customers. Take a few minutes to run your posts or profile updates through a spellchecker or online grammar tool to show you care about the details. CareerBuilder states that of those employers that do social research, 57% have found content that caused them not to hire candidates. Don’t let that be you.

The numerous advantages of using social media to get a job make it easy to take your career search to a whole new level of public visibility. If furthering your education is the next step in finding a fulfilling career, check out Post University’s large variety of flexible undergraduate and graduate-level programs, delivered either online or on campus.