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How to Effectively Use Social Media While Looking for Your Next Job

How to Effectively Use Social Media While Looking for Your Next Job

Social media is pervasive, including in the world of recruiting. Almost everyone has one or more social profiles, and the information shared can offer powerful insights into a candidate’s life outside of their resume. 

While HR departments, hiring managers, and recruiters must follow legal guidelines, seeing a candidate’s social footprint is often unavoidable in a digital world. In fact, according to The Manifest 2020 Recruitment Survey, 90% of employers said social media is important as candidates are evaluated during the hiring process, and 79% said they had denied a candidate a role based on their social media profiles.

When you’re job seeking, it’s more important than ever to evaluate your social media profiles to determine whether they’re helping or hurting your chances of being considered for a role.  

Consider the following:

  • Social media can offer a more complete picture of who you are that isn’t easily defined in your resume, along with information that supports your qualifications for the role and whether you will fit the position and company culturally. 
  • Posts and comments may help determine how you conduct yourself personally, including handling conflict and resolutions. Try to ensure that information on social media is not misleading.
  • Profiles can help employers see whether you remain professional while not actively “on the job.” In other words, will they end up being proud of or embarrassed by your actions online?

According to Justia, which provides case law, codes, regulations, and legal information for lawyers, businesses, students, and consumers worldwide, organizations can use social media as part of their job advertising and recruiting process, as well as to perform background checks or confirm that a candidate is qualified for a role. 

There are several factors employers can not take into consideration when reviewing candidates. Protected information, such as race, age, gender, or national origin, cannot be considered. To ensure organizations remain legally compliant, many hire third parties to look only at legally compliant information and report it to the hiring entity.

Tips for Using Social Media to Your Advantage 

Social media, particularly LinkedIn, can be a valuable tool when job seeking and building your professional network. Below are some tips to help ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Understand your state’s laws. Around half of all states have laws prohibiting employers from asking for user names or passwords to social media accounts. Other states have “off-duty conduct laws” that prohibit employers from taking adverse employment action based on conduct outside of work, notes The Bridgespan Group. If a company asks for this information, it may be a red flag that they want to go beyond what is legally allowed as they evaluate candidacy. 

Google yourself. Use your browser’s incognito mode to search for yourself on Google or other search engines. The results will give you a good idea of what potential employers will see. Based on your findings, clean up your account or adjust the privacy settings. Make sure you adjust your settings so that it’s not entirely locked down, as areas like your location, professional skills, and employment history can help searchers find you.

Use LinkedIn as your calling card. LinkedIn is a professional network, so expect recruiters and potential employers to search the platform for your profile. Ensure you have a professional photo and headline and that your experience is up to date, including volunteer work, current skills and certifications, and details for each of your roles. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s recommendation feature by requesting recommendations from your colleagues. 

If you’re actively pursuing a new role, you can select the “Open For Work” banner to pair with your profile photo and alert your network that you’re in the market for a new role. If you’re employed and don’t want your employer to see that you’re seeking other opportunities, you can choose to “Share with recruiters only.” Additionally, don’t forget to update your job preferences so LinkedIn can help you find potential opportunities. 

Social media research is important for candidates, too. Use social media to research companies where you are applying. LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook all can help you paint a picture of the company’s culture, its employees, and its reputation with the public.

Engage with others. Social media offers a platform to show others what you know and establish yourself as a thought leader in your field, especially on LinkedIn and Twitter. Post interesting, relevant articles and posts, comment on posts and engage with people in your networks, whether they’re hiring or not. Join and follow professional groups and interact with the content. Maintain consistency and remember that you’re building a professional brand.

Using social media to help evaluate candidates is popular in the recruiting process, and for a good reason. Not only can it help employers select candidates that will best serve their needs, but it can help job seekers build a professional brand, connect and interact with others in their field, and share a complete picture of what you can offer an organization. 

When used properly, social media can enhance your visibility and be a positive asset in the search for your next opportunity. 


Impact Opportunity would like to thank Karen Butterfield for her work in writing this article. Karen is the Founder of KE Butterfield, LLC., a communications firm. Prior to launching the company, Karen served as a Director of Communications for an executive recruiting firm and spent nearly a decade as a reporter and editor for an award-winning community newspaper and publishing company. During her tenure there, Karen earned more than a dozen state and national awards for her work. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Webster University in St. Louis.