Posting questionable content on social media could kill your chances at getting a job, but what you post could also propel your application to the top of the stack. If done correctly and professionally, social media platforms are a great place to share accomplishments and volunteering activities.
Recruiters are looking for candidates online and what they find will help determine who gets the job. According to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates before making a hiring decision, and 57 percent of hiring managers are less likely to interview someone they can't find online.
"When a recruiter searches an applicant's name to learn more about them, it's actually a red flag nowadays if someone isn't found to be active online," said Brie Reynolds, senior career specialist at FlexJobs. "LinkedIn is the bare minimum a job seeker should be using to help show employers that they are technologically savvy and understand the basics on digital communication."
Each social network has its own unique characteristics and best practices. We talked to hiring managers, recruiters and social media experts about how to use social media to optimize your job search.
As the go-to network for both job seekers and hiring managers, your top priority should be making your LinkedIn profile work for you.
"Hiring managers may look to your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you," said Reynolds. "If it doesn't match your resume with your most up-to-date jobs, projects and skills, they may be confused. It may send the message that you're not taking enough care with your job search or professional image."
Reynolds also said you should keep your profile up-to-date because many hiring managers use LinkedIn to find applicants – sometimes before they even post a job opening.
"If you're interested in new opportunities, even in the least, keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date so you'll be findable when a recruiter starts searching," she said.
Angela Copeland, career coach at Copeland Coaching, said LinkedIn is a great resource for interviews.
"If you're interested in a particular job, try to locate and reach out to the hiring manager via LinkedIn," she said. "If you have an interview already scheduled, you can use LinkedIn to learn more about the people who will interview you."
The brands and people you engage with on Twitter directly impact your followers' perception of you, and may affect whether hiring managers believe you're worthy of working for the company or not.
"Twitter is a great place to meet employees and high-level executives," Copeland said. "You'd be surprised how many C-level executives run their own Twitter, and are open to having a conversation with you. It's also a great place to listen to what people are saying about your future company."
When you're looking for a job, a good percentage of your tweets, retweets and replies should focus on topics that are relevant to the companies you want to work for. You can achieve this by making use of keywords and hashtags that professionals in your field talk about and follow.
"Twitter can be used to identify leaders in an organization that you are interested in joining," said Heather Monahan, life coach and business expert. "By following them and retweeting their tweets you can get their attention. Responding to their tweets and showing your value can give you an advantage over the other candidates who aren't trying to communicate."
Before you start using Facebook to your advantage, you need to make sure it's not damaging your image. Be sure to delete or untag yourself from any questionable posts or pictures. Once your page is scrubbed clean, you should ensure you're only posting appropriate content.
"It's important to be careful with the type of content you post," said Karla Ruiz, social media director at Casanova//McCann. "Make sure you are posting content you'll be proud of in the next few years. Keep control of your privacy settings and if you are out partying, enjoy the moment and leave your phone by your side. Once it goes live, it lives online forever."
While it's important to use privacy settings for personal information, you should keep some information public such as your employment information, location and professional skills. You should be searchable to hiring managers.
It's always a good idea to engage with industry leaders and portray yourself as a thought leader on all social media platforms. A great way to achieve this on Facebook is by commenting and contributing to industry-specific Facebook groups.
"Being engaged and part of these [Facebook] groups can be a huge asset," said Andrea Hurtado, director, marketing and brand health at Protis Global. "These groups can do quite a bit for you – assist and propel you in developing yourself professionally, connect you with other individuals in your field and/or get you closer contact with an organization that is looking for talent like you."
While each platform serves a different purpose, it's also important to have a consistent voice and style throughout all your social media profiles. You should be utilizing social media to build yourself as a brand.
"Be sure to have a clean and consistent social media presence," said Ruiz. "Don't just share stuff just of the sake of sharing. Before posting, ask yourself – does this add value to my personal brand?"
Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon and Shannon Gausepohl. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.