If you were looking for a new service provider, would you do business with a company that was not online? Or would that make them seem a little out of touch – or even possibly shady? That’s just how employers feel about you too.

A new study was released yesterday by our friends over at OfficeTeam. They surveyed hundreds of Canadian HR managers from mid-sized companies about the most common social media mistakes that candidates make that stop them from getting hired.

Of course among the top most frequent blunders were “posting negative or inappropriate comments,” and “posting or being tagged in inappropriate or risqué photos.” But that’s not really news anymore. Most people already know that ranting about your job or boss online, posting angry, foul-mouthed comments, or drunken or lewd pictures will hurt your chances of getting hired for a new job.

If this is coming as news to you, please read: The social media posts Canadian employers say swayed them for or against hiring a candidate.

What was more interesting to me from the OfficeTeam study was the second item on employers’ social media turn offs list: “Not posting regularly; having incomplete, dated or no social media profiles.” Nineteen percent of employers said that a lack of an up-to-date online presence was the biggest social media mistake job candidates make. This was rated as a larger problem even than the inappropriate photos we hear so much about.

Remember, your social media profiles turn up in Google search results. If you created a Twitter account in 2011 and haven’t tweeted in five years, it can be a red flag to employers. Why? Because those search results are the first impression an employer is forming of you, and you don’t want that first impression to be the possibility that you start things you don’t finish, you haven’t had an original thought to share in five years, or that you’ve been offline and out of touch for the past half decade.

Similarly, if employers can’t find you online at all, it could raise questions. Your lack of an online presence could indicate that you have something to hide – you’re an anti-social loner, or that you’re simply not very technologically savvy and not using the latest communication tools. In any case, it is in your own best interest to create a friendly, connected, well-rounded image of yourself online.

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.

“People often believe posting on social media is just harmless fun, but in reality, employers frequently look online to learn about prospective hires,” said Brandi Britton, OfficeTeam’s district president. “Professionals should think beyond eliminating unflattering content from their digital accounts to how they can wow hiring managers by showcasing career accomplishments and industry involvement.”

OfficeTeam’s Koula Vasilopoulos advises, “Workers should keep their profiles updated and relevant, and make the most of the opportunity to candidly demonstrate their interests and contributions in relation to their chosen field.”

Read the full report from OfficeTeam with a list of do’s and don’ts for a variety of online personality types.