How Social Media Can Help You Find (or Lose) A Job

By Kathryn Lively

     Having worked in social media for many years, I've seen how one can use it for personal and professional gain, and how one slip online can prove disastrous. We've been warned often not to share anything on the Internet that we don't want advertised to the world, because indeed the Internet is forever. You can remove an embarrassing photo, but there are ways to dig up an archive that can haunt you. Fear appeals aside, however, social media does prove useful in any job search, and it's important to know how to use it well so you get the job you want without risk to your reputation.

     How many of use have Facebook and Twitter accounts? Chances are, you have one or the other, or both. If you're like me, you may use one to keep in touch with family and family, while the other is used for general observations of the news and the occasional rant. If you are also like me, you may employ the ten-second rule often before posting something that may prove to inspire inflamed reactions. If not, you may not be bothered by an off-color joke or racy meme picture, but if something you have underneath your avatar turns off a prospective employer you may find you've lost a good opportunity.

     These days, employers and recruiters do more than check your resume and references. The search engine has become a powerful employment tool, where a simple search on your name lets Human Resources know more about you that you've let on in an application. Newer algorithms in search will yield results from social media that may linger even if you have erased updates. While you are perfectly in your right to express opinions, excessive profanity and vulgarity may work against you in the job search. How you post on Twitter and Facebook is how the world perceives you now, so think before you do it.

     Now, we've touched on how social media can keep you unemployed... can it do the opposite? Definitely! Using the Twitter search function, for example, can pull up a number of legitimate job offers through companies or job banks. Most tweets will include a link to the full description, which you'll want to study. I wouldn't reply via Twitter to a job offer unless the Twitter user specified so - even in the age of social brevity, you want to maintain an air of professionalism.

     Social media interaction can work for and against you in the job search, depending on how you present yourself. Take a moment to step outside the arena and view your profiles as an employer might. Do you look good enough to hire? If not, think about how you can improve your image.
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on accounting jobs and accounting job search sites.

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