Are your social media accounts career-ready?

Your online profile can make — or break — your job hunt.

In today’s highly connected world, it’s not uncommon for your social media accounts — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn — to be considered a reflection of who you are as a person or potential employee. But you may be surprised at just how influential your social media accounts can be when it comes to finding jobs, impressing recruiters, and getting hired. Here’s what you need to know about the role social media plays in your career.

How employers use social media

Ninety percent of Americans ages 18–29 use social media, so it should come as no surprise that employers are jumping on the bandwagon. Before you take a critical look at your accounts, it’s important to know how employers are using social media — and it’s not all bad.

  • To hire: According to Jobvite, 92% of recruiters say they use social media as part of their hiring process. However, it’s not just used for recruitment: 60% of employers say they use social media to screen job candidates after they apply, states CareerBuilder, so how you portray yourself online matters.
  • To monitor: Your work doesn’t end when you land the job. About a quarter of employers report having found content online that caused them to reprimand or terminate an employee, and 41% of employers say they actively use social media to research current employees, according to CareerBuilder.

Is your online reputation career-ready? - data

How you can use social media

Although many employers use social media to fill open positions at their companies, not all do, so it’s important to actively use social media to your benefit during a job search. Here’s what you can do to leverage your accounts when looking for your next job.

  • Connect with recruiters: Sites like LinkedIn allow you access to recruiters in ways that weren’t possible in years past. First, be sure to apply directly to any company you’re pursuing — through their career website or by emailing your résumé to the indicated contact person. But then you can take your search a step further by finding the appropriate recruiter or HR manager on LinkedIn. It’s OK to try to connect with these individuals and include a personal and professional message stating that you’ve applied for a position at their company and reiterating why you’d be a good fit. Best-case scenario, this draws their attention to your name and profile and they contact you about the position. However, if they don’t reply, it’s best to not badger them.
  • Find jobs: Sure, social networking sites can be great to connect with your classmates, but they can also serve a higher purpose. Search for companies you’d like to pursue and set up alerts so you’re always in the know about any job postings they share. You can also seek out relevant online groups in your desired field to get some exposure and potential leads on job openings.
  • Track company updates: One of the great features social media provides is breaking news coverage. Potential employers’ accounts are no exception. By following their pages, you’ll be in the loop on current events and campaigns happening in the company. This may allow you to glean insight into what it’s like to work there and learn facts to wow the hiring manager if you land an interview.
  • Present your brand: Your social media accounts are a reflection of you, which makes them a great opportunity to showcase who you are. Consider sharing articles and blog posts — valuable and sharable content relating to your career (or desired career) — on LinkedIn and Twitter. Present your own unique ideas and follow thought leaders in your industry. If you don’t have many active social accounts, you may want to consider creating a strong profile for yourself. Recruiters may be seeking this particularly within certain fields, such as communications.

Social media is what you make of it. It can be a great tool to increase your awareness and position in the job field, but it can also harm you if you aren’t careful about your online presence. By remaining vigilant about what you post and giving consideration to who might see your posts, you can increase the benefit of having accounts without losing sight of your goals.