Your online social presence is essential to your personal brand and an important component of any job search. It takes time and ongoing effort to develop and maintain, but, it’s necessary to ensure you are representing yourself as appropriately and professionally as possible. Keeping your online profiles and interactions accurate and up-to-date is important. Here’s why:    

Recruiters use social media to find top talent.

The majority of recruiters and hiring managers use social media to search for qualified candidates and many rely on LinkedIn to reach a more targeted, qualified bank of candidates. Many employers no longer list their open positions on job boards due to the volume and quality of the results they generate. Instead, they are using LinkedIn and other social networks, as well as online searches to identify and locate qualified applicants. If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, set one up. If you do, make sure it’s up-to-date and 100% complete to LinkedIn standards, including:

  • A professional, business-appropriate photo. Profiles with photos are 14 times more likely to be viewed.
  • A descriptive summary to highlight your expertise and passions. Don’t just rehash your resume.
  • Use keywords relevant to the skills employers would look for in the industries and jobs you are interested in.
  • Quantifiable accomplishments and specific responsibilities.
  • A few strong recommendations.

Employers may be reluctant to hire candidates with little or no social presence.

Make sure your personal profiles are not set to private. According to CareerBuilder, more than one-third of employers cite lack of online profiles as a “red flag.” You want to have a presence, but be discerning about how you engage on social networks. If it makes sense, create a new account and start with a fresh canvas.

Everything you put online stays there -- where recruiters may find it.

Everything you put online stays there, so it’s a good practice to routinely review all your social media profiles (especially ahead of a job search) to ensure you don’t have inappropriate or controversial public content. According to CareerBuilder, the top five things recruiters are looking for in your social profiles are:

  • Inappropriate photos
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Negative posts about past employers or coworkers
  • Lack of communication skills
  • Disciplinary or inflammatory content regarding race, gender, religion and other issues

Recruiters often search out recommendations to support what your profiles reveal.   

Ask for references from your LinkedIn connections. It’s helpful to see what others think about the work you’ve done for them. Make sure it represents you the way you intend. If not, ask the writer to revise it before it goes public. It’s also helpful to recruiters to read recommendations you have written for others. It provides insight into your character and can help them determine if you would fit in with the company.

Recruiters routinely scout LinkedIn industry groups and blogs.

How are you interacting on social platforms? Have you joined any LinkedIn Groups or association forums? Now is the time. Get in the conversation, ask questions and share information that may interest people in these groups. Show and share your expertise by blogging on dedicated industry sites or social network homepages. It can help build your credibility and personal brand and may catch the eye of recruiters who are also part of the group. Follow companies and industry influencers. Keep track of what is going on at the companies you are interested in.

Whether you are actively job searching or not, these strategies will help you present a competent, respected and professional online presence.