If you’re looking for a job, it’s likely you will already have spent a great deal of time getting your résumé prepared, researching how to do well in an interview, thinking of what to say in a cover letter, and everything else that goes along with finding your next step along your career path. Yet, one element you might have neglected to think about, at least in terms of your job search, is social media.

Far from only being a useful tool to use in your personal life for fun and connecting with people and finding out what’s happening in your local area, social media can be a treasure trove when it comes to finding jobs, too.

This doesn’t specifically relate to the fact that many companies will advertise their vacant positions on social media and even allow people to apply through those channels (although this is certainly worth bearing in mind); it actually relates to how your social media presence could make or break your success when it comes to finding a job.

It might not occur to you because, after all, you won’t want your personal life and your work life to mix, so why should your Facebook profile or Twitter account make any difference? In fact, the reality is that there will be some form of overlap, and recruiters and managers will scour social media for information.

With that in mind, here are some of the many steps you can take to ensure your social media presence doesn’t stop you from getting the job you truly want.

Make It Clean

What does your social media account or accounts say about you? They are likely to be very personal, with lots of photos and comments and perhaps even some causes that you’re passionate about. Yet although these are good parts of your life and they tell people about you, is this actually what you want a potential employer to see?

You don’t have to delete your entire profile, and you don’t have to stop being you, but while you’re looking for a job it’s probably a good idea to remove any profanities, not show pictures of you partying too much (some is fine, of course), and ensure that any politics are kept to a minimum—ideally not mentioned at all.

One Or Two Accounts?

It’s good to be on social media; it helps potential employers discover more about you, it’s fun, and it can be a good tool when you’re looking for a job if you ensure your profile is geared in that direction.

However, this could also potentially cause you problems, and having more than one or two social media accounts can be an issue, mainly because it shows—assuming they’re active accounts—that you spend a lot of time on social media, and that can actually behave a negative effect.

LinkedIn is a great platform for job seekers, and you should certainly have an account there where you can detail your past experience, show that you have a masters in public policy distance learning or another equally useful degree, and connect with people who might be able to help you move forward. After this, perhaps one or two other accounts are enough.

You will be able to maintain them properly if you only have a handful of profiles, and that will bode well for any future job search.

Be Professional And Consistent

No matter what platform you prefer to use, or whether you have one or more of them, they must all be professional and consistent if you want to find a job. Remember, although these accounts are yours and you can technically do whatever you want with them, they will be used by recruiters—that’s almost one hundred percent guaranteed. There are so many job seekers that narrowing down the list has to happen somehow, and social media is an easy and quick way to do it.

Have a good profile picture that says shows you in a good light and that you would be happy for an employer to see, and always use your real name. Having an amusing or clever image as your handle might seem like a good idea, but does it truly put out the right impression? Use your real name for the best results.

Add Your Profiles To Your Résumé

If you truly want to make a good impression with any potential employer, add your social media accounts (not too many, of course, as previously mentioned) to your résumé. This not only gives the recruiter somewhere to go to start finding out more about you, but it shows that you have thought carefully about what you are doing and you know that your accounts are up to date and look professional.

This is especially useful if your profiles are full of interesting facts about your career path, or little snippets about what you’ve done in the past. Perhaps they will show that you are passionate about a specific aspect of what you do, for example. The fact is, you can’t fit everything onto your résumé, and neither should you try to, but when you have a positive, professional, useful social media account to act as an additional layer of information, don’t be shy; show it off and get ahead of the competition as a result.

It’s Not For Professional Communication

As much as you might feel that social media can be the ideal tool for finding jobs to apply for, for researching companies, and showing who you are and why someone should hire you, one rule you should always follow is that you should never use your account to contact the professionals you’re hoping to work for—unless they invite you to, of course.

If you use your personal social medial account to get in touch with professional companies, it simply looks unprofessional, and can even come across as annoying or rude. At the very least, remember that these companies will receive many hundreds of direct messages, and yours—as important as it is to you—can easily get lost.

This is why it’s far better to use email or make a telephone call if you want to speak to someone directly about a job, your résumé, your interview, or anything else. It gives a much better impression and you’re sure to get an answer.

Create A Schedule

It’s highly likely that you will check at least one of your personal social media accounts every day, and often more than once a day. However, having a scattergun approach to your social media use when you want it to help you find a job is not such a good idea: if you don’t check enough you might miss an important message, and if you check too much you might start to waste too much time when you have other jobs to do (and other places to search for work).

It’s best to create a schedule that will help you much more positively than just hoping for the best and seeing what happens. The best way to do this is to work out which social media platforms are the most useful. We’ve already mentioned that LinkedIn is a must, but where else are you going to find useful information?

Once you know that, you can schedule your time accordingly so that you use the platform for a short while at the same time every day. When you do this, you’ll get into a good routine that will help you in other aspects of your life, too. Just don’t get caught up with scrolling, or forget to do any tidying or job hunting.

Making Appropriate Connections

There are platforms where it’s acceptable to ask for a connection with a recruiter or potential employer, such as LinkedIn. Plus, it’s a good idea to follow them on Instagram and Twitter, and perhaps “like” their business page on Facebook. However, trying to become friends with someone on Facebook is a bad idea; it looks strange and can be off-putting. Be careful who you try to connect with.

Ideally, the only place you’ll truly connect with people when it comes to a professional basis is LinkedIn; this is exactly what this platform is for. Even so, connecting with people you don’t know and have never met is frowned upon, so do be aware of what you’re doing. Even if you’re trying to be professional and have good intentions, as most people will, it’s still not widely recognized as being helpful.

If you do reach out to anyone, whether you know them or not, make sure you send a personalized request. It might be tempting to send out multiple requests using the simple template that LinkedIn offers, but if you do this it shows that you haven’t taken the time to thoroughly look into whoever it is you’re connecting with, and that would be a red flag to any recruiter.

Don’t Over-Interact

It’s good to interact with people on social media; that’s what it’s there for. You can reply to posts and tweets, you can share content, and you can “favorite” certain elements. However, there is a fine line between doing all of this and over-interacting. When you over-interact, it can get annoying for the person you are trying to connect with, and it shows a certain sense of desperation.

In other words, you don’t want to come on too strong. Of course, your career is important to you, and it might be exciting to be able to connect with those who you admire and specifically want to work this, but you might be doing more damage to your career than you realize by utilizing this technique. Be careful.

Use Keywords In Your Bio

Although you shouldn’t rely on the idea that a recruiter is going to find you through your social media accounts and contact you directly, this is certainly a possibility; these recruiters and hiring managers are using the same techniques as you are, only you’re looking for a job, and they’re looking for potential candidates.

With this possibility in mind, it’s a wise idea to ensure that your bio—which all social media accounts will allow you to create—contains all the relevant information and specific keywords linked to your career. Think about what recruiters would be searching for and include as many as you can without over-stuffing your bio, which will have a negative effect.

If you get this right, you will be much more easily found, and contacted, and this could be a good way to find jobs that you would otherwise never have heard about.

Privacy Settings

As previously mentioned, it’s highly likely that any potential employer is going to take the time to search you out on social media to get a better idea of whether or not you will fit in with them and their company. If you don’t like this idea, then you might be tempted to edit your privacy settings so that anyone who is not already in your network can’t see them. However, this is not the ideal approach.

As highlighted above, removing any offending posts or pictures is a good idea, but if you don’t want to do this—and you’re well within your rights not to—then editing your privacy settings is a good option. You can make the posts you think might not look good to a recruiter entirely private, and leave other, interesting, useful elements of your account public. In this way, you can effectively create a new profile using your old one that any “outsider” could see and that you would be happy to be used as a method of gauging your suitability for any job.

Engage In Discussions

Having a social media account that is all about just your own thoughts and opinions is fine, and it will certainly show your personality, but it might not be enough to help you truly stand out from the crowd. What will help in this regard is engaging in discussions.

Of course, this doesn’t mean being unkind or rude or anything of that kind, but having deep conversations that show you have good opinions and are able to put forward your ideas will certainly help when it comes to showing that you would be a good recruit for any business.