How much influence does social networking have on the job application process and your career?  What does your social media persona convey about you? In today’s competitive job market these are valid questions to think about. Okay, so you’ve applied for a perfect position with a dream company and got that coveted interview.  You supplied references with a resume, and expect the company will contact them; but be aware that another source of background information about you is now available to employers through social media.  This includes the interactive places where you connect with family, friends and associates such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  There are also places where you can “strut your stuff” with video-sharing on YouTube and blog pages.  However, whatever you choose to put out there is available for the public to see, including potential employers.

This recent phenomenon has become a valuable screening tool for employers, who in the past did not have this kind of access to personal information.  Statistics vary slightly, but generally they seem to agree that between 40% and 50% are now using social media information in some form, and the number is growing. You can make this work in your favor, or if you’re not careful, it can work against you.  According to a survey of 2,667 HR professionals compiled by, “eighteen percent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them to hire the candidate.” However, up to 53% surveyed admitted they disqualified a candidate because of content!

One way to take advantage of social media is your presentation, and an obvious place to start is Facebook. Think of it as dressing professionally for an interview, only virtually.  It’s a great way to show your best side. Consider what your page, your wall, or your pictures might be saying to potential employers if they were to visit.  Are you presenting an appealing, professional persona? Also, your page is a great place to express additional professional interests and relevant experiences that you weren’t able to address on a resume or cover letter because of space restrictions.  A positive appearance will speak volumes to someone who is interested in hiring you.  And in today’s job market, a virtual professional look is as important as a first impression, and could give you a serious advantage over the competition.

If you think there may be images or conversations on your page that a potential employer might view as undesirable, consider making some changes, such as making the information private, but also take advantage of visibility that can effectively work in your favor. If you’re unsure about some of the elements ask a parent or advisor, or call us at Career Services.  If you are serious about your career goals and getting hired, this could make the difference in whether or not you get the job!

Posted by Barbara Harrelson, Career Services Receptionist