Educate March 2018

Getting Your Social Media Job-Hunt Ready

Written By: Emily Stolberg

We use social media every day. How can we not? We live in an era filled with direct messaging, online dating, finstas (parody Instagram accounts), live Tweeting and memes. In a world where there’s an app for everything, it’s sometimes too easy to forget that real people, particularly employers, can see everything we’re posting online.

If you’re a young professional attempting to break into your industry, someone getting back in the game and picking their career up again or if you’re just looking to up your professional presence online, it’s time to look at your social media accounts and make them fit for potential employers and coworkers to see. Chances are your social media could make or break you during a job hunt, whether you like it or not.

Why does it matter? Your social media profiles are your personal branding. Everything you post online must be something you are willing to let people see as a representation of who you are. Your future employer doesn’t care if that post was a joke or not, if it shows your personality is not fit for their company, you can kiss that job opportunity goodbye. Think about who you are, what you want and how you want to be perceived – then show that online.

According to a 2017 survey held by CareerBuilder, 70 percent of employers use social media accounts to screen their candidates prior to hiring them, which is a 10 percent increase from 2016. The survey also showed what employers particularly look for on social media pages: information supporting your qualifications, a professional persona, what other people say about you and anything deeming you unworthy of working at their company.

While what not to include on your social media pages should be your main priority, it is important to consider what can help you build your brand on your accounts. You may need to delete and adjust some of your posts and pages, but social media shouldn’t be something you’re ashamed of and want to hide from recruiters. Be proud of your online persona, but make sure it’s a profile you want to be proud of. Your accounts can help you as much as they can hurt you. Here’s how to make sure you take advantage of that.


  1. Say No to Negativity and Controversy

Dr. Andrew Selepak, writing for electronic media professor at UF, said posting negative and controversial comments online will cause the potential employee in question to come off as a negative person. This will cause employers to move on to the next candidate, as they will not want to bring negative attitudes or energy into their offices. Employers also avoid bringing controversial and potential legal risks into their offices. Engaging in posts over controversial topics, such as politics, religion and even sports can quickly escalate. Selepak said getting into arguments online will hinder your chances of getting hired from a legal standpoint. No company wants to bring someone onto its team that will make hasty, emotionally drawn decisions that could hurt the company. Thus, making it important to save your debating skills for another time rather than documenting your beliefs online for everyone to see.


  1. Engage Yourself In Your Industry

Lisa Buyer, social media management professor at UF, said using keywords to match your personal interests, shows your involvement and engagement with your passions and industry.

“If you’re passionate about yoga, share attractive articles and opportunities involving yoga, health and wellness,” Buyer said.

While posting and sharing these positive topics, use keywords and hashtags to show your contribution to the online conversation. Following the yoga example, keywords to use would be yoga and meditation. Possible hashtags would be #WellnessWednesday and #YogaLife.

Alexis Eldayrie, inbound marketing executive at PHOS Creative, said that the number one thing PHOS Creative looks for on social media when recruiting new employees is the candidate’s online profile complementing their resume, cover letter and interview. Eldayrie said seeing a candidate show interest online helps spike the company’s interest in him or her, and the more positive content there is, the better.

“Trying to learn more about you (a candidate) as an employer and recruiter is very hard to do from a one-hour interview, cover letter or resume,” said Eldayrie. “That’s why social media is so helpful.”

Eldayrie said she and her fellow recruiters are never looking with the intent of finding inappropriate posts on your social media, they are just trying to get to know you better to decide if you are a right fit for the job.


  1. Don’t Hide from your Employers

There are many different opinions on the idea of hiding on social media, but the truth is if your name, phone number or email address have ever been linked to an account, there is a chance an employer may see it. If you change your name online or make it tough for employers to find you, they will either give up and spend their time getting to know other candidates better, or eventually find you and wonder why you went through such great lengths to hide from them.

UF professor, Dr. Philip Arceneaux, said that the idea of privacy on social media doesn’t really exist, but that doesn’t mean every account has to be purely professional. Instead of hiding from your employers, take a look back at your accounts for a bit of spring cleaning. Make some accounts such as LinkedIn and Twitter, purely professional, while having others more personal, but still appropriate.

Selepak said the more accessible and public you are online the better, but he touches upon the subject of safety as well.

“First and foremost is safety, but you will have to be prepared to explain that if the topic arises,” Selepak said. “And sometimes you may not get that chance.”

He said it is understandable for individuals, especially young women, to not want photos of their personal lives available to the public but being private online may deter some employers. The more public accounts you have, the easier it is for employers to “cyber stalk” you and get to know you.


  1. Personalize Each Platform, but Maintain your Personal Brand

Each social media platform has its own purpose, and it’s your job to use each one properly, while showing consistency throughout platforms. Skew each account for the proper format and audience but maintain your brand.

If you have a professional headshot, use it for every platform picture. If you don’t have a professional headshot, get one. According to Arceneaux, a headshot photo will separate you from being regarded as a college student or unemployed. The profile picture you choose will be the first picture employers associate with you, so make it count. With your headshot on every platform, change things up a bit with your posts. Each platform is centered toward something different: Facebook is for photos and article sharing, Instagram is for pictures, Twitter is for short text posts and links and LinkedIn is an online resume on steroids compared to your normal resume. It’s okay to make similar posts on each platform but cater to the needs of those platforms.

“Tweak your platforms like you would tweak a cover letter for different job opportunities,” Arceneaux explained.

Following these tips and many more can help boost your online presence and impress any future or current employers. The 2017 CareerBuilder survey showed that 54 percent of employers admitted to finding content on prospective employees’ social media accounts that took them out of the running. Don’t join the majority. Your social media is you. Show employers what you’re worth.



EMILY STOLBERG is a senior public relations student at the University of Florida. When she isn’t writing, Emily is traveling, playing with her dog or eating Chipotle. Emily is known for her love for London and ability to binge watch Netflix shows freakily fast.


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