Social media and the Internet are powerful communication tools that can help or hinder your job search. When used well, online profiles and information can display your personality and personal brand. However, the reverse is also true. With nearly 80% of employers now researching applicants, here are some tips to improve your online impression.

  1. Consider your social media privacy settings. Think of your profile from the employer’s point of view – this could be the first or only impression you ever make. Lock down your photos and consider deleting posts that may not make a great first impression.
  2. Use social media to your advantage. Follow companies of interest on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Post, share, and retweet articles in your field of interest.
  3. Google yourself. Make sure there is nothing questionable that an employer would have concern about (like a news article, old social media site, or photos). You can even set an alert on Google so that you receive an email any time your name is posted on the Internet.
  4. Link up on LinkedIn. If you haven’t checked it out, 94% of employers are using LinkedIn. If you are in a job search you should be on LinkedIn. A professional photo and complete profile are must-haves.
  5. Think twice about what you are posting online. Type. Reread. Delete. Type. Reread. Post. This method will help you pause to consider if what you are posting is appropriate for all of your audiences.

When executed thoughtfully, social media can add a new layer to your job application. Consider how you might leverage it to add to your cover letter and resume, or how you might limit it to ensure it doesn’t distract from your many professional qualifications. 

Clare Tauriello has a master of education in counselor education from Penn State University and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Ithaca College. She worked for many years at Penn State Mont Alto as the career services coordinator and as the division of undergraduate studies coordinator. Prior to Penn State, Clare worked at Northeastern University and Emerson College. She has also taught at Frederick Community College. Clare has been interviewed by USA TODAY, monster.com, The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post and the Frederick News-Post on a variety of career-related topics.