If you are to be successful on social media and land that dream job it is important to heed a few do’s and don’ts.

Social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and personal blogs and websites) are relied on by hiring managers as an effective tool to screen job applicants. A 2017 Harris Poll revealed that 70 percent of employers visit the social media profiles of candidates on the shortlist before making a final hiring decision. This is a ten percent increase from last year.

What your social media profiles say about you is important

There are many reasons for using social media profiles in this way; one of the most important is that it helps employers match the perfect candidate to their job requirements.

Important information about a potential employee can be gleaned from what is shared online (videos, photos, and comments). This is why being on your best online behavior is vitally important to create a good impression.

Social media used responsibly can benefit your job search

A negative tweet or comment or embarrassing photo posted on Facebook or inconsistent information on LinkedIn can quite easily disqualify your application and take you out of the running. In addition to indiscretions, recruiters check for inconsistencies in your employment background.

But before you erase the entirety of your online presence and delete all your social media accounts preferring to play it safe, research suggests you think again: almost 60 percent of employers in the Harris Poll acknowledged they are less inclined to move onto the interview stage if the candidate is not reasonably represented online. In this day and age who doesn’t have a digital footprint?

Expert advice is that HR managers use social media as a screening tool for finding supporting information rather than look for information to disqualify an applicant. A recruitment survey carried out by Jobvite highlighted that 23 percent of recruiters found information on online profiles that led to them offering the candidates jobs.

So, what is called for is responsible digital behavior. Use these do’s and don’ts as a foundation to build positive online profiles:

Do’s

  • Mind your language

Watching your grammar is as important on your LinkedIn profile as it is on Facebook or Twitter. Using poor or inappropriate language and incorrect spelling conveys a negative impression to an employer.

  • Adjust your privacy settings

Set privacy settings (where applicable) to allow only direct connections to view personal photos or status updates so that you are in control of what prospective employers see. Or ensure that you choose the highest privacy settings if you want to keep posts out of the public eye.

For 54 percent of employers posts or photos of alcohol consumption carry a negative impression. The same goes for illicit drug use.

  • Follow companies and other industry thought leaders

Retweeting, commenting and sharing posts of the company you want to work for and relevant industry influencers shows your involvement and interest in your industry and line of work. Being on trend with current news can work to your advantage in an interview.

  • Complete your LinkedIn profile

Be assured that employers will look closely at your LinkedIn profile and any incomplete inconsistent information in your employment history will raise red flags. Remember to review and update your skillset and qualifications when applicable.

Don’ts

  • Don’t post inappropriate content

The first don’t in the social media bible of ethical behaviour is to refrain from posting anything that could be deemed offensive, sexist, derogatory or extremist. Ignore this rule and be assured your online footprint will count against you.

  • Avoid using social media to air grievances

Bad mouthing people and institutions and your ex-boss can be seen in a negative light and cast a shadow over a job application.

  • Don’t use unprofessional account handles

Using pet names or nicknames you were given in childhood for your Facebook or LinkedIn account is inappropriate for a jobseeker. Employers find anything other than your official name as a sign of immaturity and the inability to use proper judgement.

The do’s offered above can help boost a successful job search while the don’ts work to hinder or hurt your job application. The best ‘best practice’ technique when sharing or posting on social media is to spare a minute to think before you hit that post button. The idea is to impress hiring managers and convince them you’re the person for the job.

Zulfah Abrahams writes for Inspiring Interns. To browse their graduate jobs London and graduate jobs Manchester, visit their website.

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