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Online Communities and Social Media: Helping or Hurting Your Job Chances?

Online social communities and social media, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are great ways to network and meet new people. Not only do they connect you to new people, but also potential employers. Employers are increasingly using online commiunities and social media as part of their hiring process.

Benefits:

How Online Communities Can Help Job Chances

  • Extends your network
  • Employers have profiles to promote their job opportunities
  • Brings a different dimension to the hiring process
  • Shows personal attributes
  • Can validate your application

Consequences:

How Online Communities Can Hurt Job Chances

  • Content can hurt job chances
  • Information posted on your résumé or shared during and interview does not match the information posted on your profile
  • Can disqualify you from the selection process
  • Sharing information that subjects you to discrimination
  • It is difficult to clean up your digital dirt

10 Winning Profile Tips

  1. Remember That Profiles Are Public Information — Do not post anything that you would consider a secret or would not want on the front page of a newspaper.
  2. Illustrate the Skills Employers Seek — Demonstrate your proficiency in written and verbal communication, problem solving, critical thinking, leadership, teamwork, technology, etc. throughout your profile.
  3. Make It Easy to Find You — Include your school name, major, and career objective on your page.
  4. Choose Your Friends Wisely — Your friends profiles' may reflect badly upon you, who you affiliate with also makes an impression to an employer.
  5. Promote a Positive, Professional Image — Speak positively of others, do not use profanity, and monitor the language of third-party comments on your page.
  6. Do Not Post Inappropriate Information — Inappropriate information may include dating practices, illegal activities, or content that would be illegal to ask during an interview.
  7. Make Your Page User Friendly — If your page is too busy or has distracting graphic, music, or wallpaper, it may be difficult or uninviting for others to read.
  8. Be Careful With Images — Sometimes actions speak louder than words. Be careful when choosing images to post on your page, and avoid posting pictures such as photographs that illustrate inappropriate behavior.
  9. Display Your Skills and Talents — Do not be afraid to show your unique side or display special talents or skills that you have (i.e., foreign languages, music talents, artistic abilities, etc.).
  10. Show that You Are Well-Rounded — Think about what makes you a well-rounded individual, and highlight those aspects on your page (i.e., awards, honors, scholarships, clubs, organization, leadership activities, conferences etc.).

Things To Keep In Mind

If you decide to join online communities and other social media outlets, consider the following.

  • Online communities can both help or hurt job chances.
  • Keep in mind that a background check may include an online investigation.
  • Employers note that candidates usually get dropped when there are "Red Flags," or inconsistencies with what candidates present on paper, in person, and online.
  • If utilizing online communities for networking purposes, focus on building relationships with a few number of people rather than being a "friend" with 1,000+ people.
  • Avoid having a profile that might raise questions about immoral, inappropriate, and/or illegal behavior.