With approximately 2 billion combined active users of Facebook and Twitter alone, it's safe to say that social media has drawn quite the following. Whether it's to keep in touch with friends and family near and far or stay up to date on the latest happenings, people the world over have a wealth of knowledge literally at their fingertips.
Employers are well aware of the power of social media and use it to glean more information about job candidates in general or those who they're currently considering hiring. Indeed, 70 percent of employers turn to social networks to do their homework on prospective employees, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. Not only that, but among these businesses, nearly 60 percent found information or posts on candidates' profiles that were deal breakers - opting not to pursue the individuals any further.
Recruitment expert Les Rosen told the Society for Human Resources Management that social media provides a unique look into what makes potential hires tick.
"Screening social media allows employers to look inside a person's head to see who a candidate really is," Rosen explained.
There are certain restrictions to social media usage, but many employers are aware of what those are so they can safely perform their due diligence and not break any privacy laws.
If you're actively looking for a new line of work, or you just want to maintain a social media presence that will make you more attractive to companies in recruitment mode, here are a few tips to make your profile stand out from the crowd:
1. Ensure photographs are appropriate
There's a reason why dating websites encourage users to post photos - they get attention and literally provide a picture of what someone looks like. The same standard applies for employers, who court job seekers at various points in the hiring process. Just make sure that the photographs that are there are professional. If you'd be embarrassed for someone other than your loved ones to see them, that's a good indication you should delete them.
2. Keep information up to date
Both Twitter and Facebook have features that allow you to define what you're doing and how to get in touch. What was true a year ago - or even a few months - may be different now. Maintaining an accurate, fully updated profile will help employers get in touch with you more easily. Doing so may also help demonstrate certain soft skills, such as attention to detail and diligence.
3. Avoid oversharing
There's a fine line between an active social media user and an overactive one, advised Forbes. Posting news articles, witty memes and status updates is all well and good, but going overboard can be annoying and suggest that you have too much time on your hands. Translation: Try not to post more than one or two items a day and only those things that no one would find offensive. If they're borderline, you're probably better off keeping them to yourself. You can adjust in settings what posts are publicly available and private.
4. Call attention to accomplishments
Resumes provide employers with a snapshot of where you've been and what you've done over the course of your career. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram serve as another avenue that explains what makes you, well, you. Just try to keep those achievements career focused. If they make you hirable, post away.
5. Be honest in all things
Part of the reason why employers check social media is for corroboration. If you say one thing on your resume or interview, but your profile suggests otherwise, you could have some explaining to do. Make sure to avoid all forms of exaggeration as they pertain to your qualifications.
Social media is here to stay. You can gain a competitive advantage over others vying for a position by posting the things that employers value.