Landing the Job: Online Presence and Candidate Marketability

June 2015

CareerBuilder’s Annual Social Media Survey broke down just how significant a role social media plays in today’s job market. The results? While there were differences in levels of social media recruitment based on industry (IT being the highest at 76%), the overarching theme was that the use of social media as a recruitment tool continues to rise dramatically. As the use of social media grows, the professional social media landscape is changing, so much so that some aren’t able to keep up.  Many jobseekers previously believed that the best way to maintain a professional presence was to refrain from use or set privacy settings to remain unsearchable. However, CareerBuilder’s research revealed that 35% of employers are less likely to move forward with applicants that cannot be found online. 

What does this mean for today’s candidates?  It will be important for jobseekers in our current market to strike a balance online. While the days of anonymity and privacy settings may be over, that doesn’t mean employers are ready for any internet over sharing. Here are a few tips when it comes to maintaining a professional online presence:

1. Choose a Suitable Profile Photo

Whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any number of the social media sites that continue to pop up daily, an appropriate profile photo is paramount. Your photo is one of the few things that non-friends or connections are able to view and is your chance to make a professional impression (online that is). While “professional” can vary between social media sites (you don’t need to wear a suit for your Facebook photo but you shouldn’t be holding a glass of wine on Linkedin), the important thing to think about is how you want others to perceive you. You are welcome to show your personality in your Facebook or Twitter profile photo, but only if in doing so you don’t enter inappropriate territory. 

2. Be Aware of Privacy Settings

Though over 70% of adults use Facebook, many are perplexed by its privacy settings. Taking the time to understand exactly how much of your activity can be viewed by non-friends will be an important step in maintaining a professional presence during your job search. If you feel that your online contributions will have a positive impact on your marketability, allow your profile to remain public to others. However, if your communication with friends is something you would rather keep private, make sure you’re settings are adjusted accordingly. Awareness is key when it comes to how much others should see.

3. Keep Public Chatter Professional

While forums like Facebook are typically meant for social interaction and individual expression amongst those in your personal network, LinkedIn, and (increasingly) Twitter are used for more professional purposes. Many individuals utilize these platforms to share ideas, but it is important to keep in mind the tone of posts. Avoid polarizing statements and overly aggressive expression of opinions when it comes to issues of public contention.

4. Clean Up Your Online Act

Even if you’ve made changes in your social media privacy settings, your former (and perhaps more naive) online self might still be searchable--which could be detrimental to your marketability. While it may be difficult to face the demons of how embarrassing you were back in high school or college, going back and deleting any inappropriate content could be the deciding factor in whether or not you get the job.

Whether we like it or not, the use of social media continues to grow and seep into all areas of our lives, including the professional sphere. CareerBuilder’s survey proves that in the professional world it is becoming difficult (even for those who don’t utilize social media) to ignore it. Being aware of social media trends is just one more way to increase your overall marketability as it relates to the job search.