When you’re looking for a new job, it is important to use all of the resources available to you. Since you probably have accounts on multiple social networking sites anyway, (and if you don’t, as a job seeker you should), there are some ways that you can efficiently use your profiles as powerful career-management tools. The most important things to keep in mind with your online appearance are to be present, consistent, connected and relevant.

Be present (and be presentable)

The first step, obviously, is to be present. Create your account on the most popular social networking sites such as Facebook, on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Make sure to use appropriate profile pictures. Hopefully one that makes you look pleasant and confident. (But not too confident, it should go without saying that you ought to be fully clothed and sober.)

It is important to be present, because many recruiters will be looking you up on social media sites – even if they’ve found your resume through a referral or you’ve applied directly. It has become part of the normal screening process. Recruiters will be looking to see if you show common sense (re: are fully clothed and sober), have good communication skills, and if you seem like a good fit for the company.

In some cases it can actually be a red flag for recruiters if they can’t find you at all online. It may seem like you have something to hide, or you are a luddite who does not embrace new technologies, or that you are an anti-social loner. In any case, it is in your own best interest to present a friendly, connected, well-rounded image of yourself online. 

So be presentable, in a recent survey, 69% of recruiters surveyed said they have rejected a candidate based on content found on a profile. Of course, people also get hired because of their profiles. Researchers have found that employers prefer the profiles of people who appear to be more sociable, outgoing and who have many friends and activities. Being well-travelled and having a broad range of interests also scores candidates bonus points.

Be consistent

Another thing that recruiters will be screening you for online is your honesty. Make sure that your profiles match the information that you supply potential employers. For example, don’t constantly post rants online with misspelled words and bad grammar and yet claim to be an expert communicator. It will hurt your credibility.

Also make sure that the actual facts match what you’ve listed in on your resume. Discrepancies between job titles or dates, your education or skills as listed on your resume vs. online can be a warning that you don’t have your story straight.

­­Be connected

The whole point of social networking sites is, of course that they connect you with other people. So let your connections know what your interests are and what kind of work you are looking for. You may not even know which friends or friends of friends can be valuable connections.

Don’t wait until you’re looking for a job to expand your network – building and maintaining a list of contacts is an ongoing project. (And networking is a two-way street – make sure to help others out whenever you can.)  

You can also follow companies that you’re interested in working for. Many tweet and post their opportunities on their Facebook pages. You’ll also gain real-time knowledge of what they’re communicating about their business, products and services – all of which will be valuable information when tailoring a resume or preparing for an interview.  

Join group discussions with other professionals in your industry. You’ll make new connections, keep abreast of the latest news and trends, and have the opportunity to share your own ideas and interests.

Be relevant

Social media can give you lots of opportunities to communicate your thoughts, so use the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of your field. Write and share your own blog pieces. Comment on the latest news and developments in your industry. Show that you are truly interested in your specialty and aware of what is going on.

Then why not include links to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles right on your resume? Let potential employers know that you have a robust online presence and that you’d like them to get to know more about you than can be conveyed in a job application. Who they find online will be a presentable and consistent professional who has relevant knowledge and connections within their industry.


Peter Harris

Peter Harris on Twitter