Pump up your social resume and your job prospects

Posted September 05, 2013 by
The phrase "Social Media" in cloud form in the sky

The phrase “Social Media” in cloud form in the sky. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Let’s pretend for a moment you just got out of a job interview you aced. You wore the right clothes, gave the right answers and overall wowed them with your professional demeanor.

Then you leave the room and the hiring manager goes to his favorite search engine where he finds a video of you twerking Miley Cyrus style and wearing a t-shirt that says “I Love Ganja.” Suddenly you don’t seem like such a great job candidate, do you?


Even if you haven’t made obvious online gaffes such as posting wild party photos, you still might be making mistakes that could cost you a job. That’s why you need to spend as much time optimizing your social resume as you do your paper one.

What is a social resume?

Your social resume is essentially your online footprint. It is what others will find when they go to the Web and search for your name or scour your social media profiles.

It’s the flame war you started on a message board; it’s the angry tweets you sent after your boss dumped an unpleasant assignment in your lap. But it is also the photos of the Habitat for Humanity Build you participated in last weekend, and the helpful answers you provided on Quora. Your social resume is the sum total of everything — good and bad — that is posted online by and about you.

Hiring managers taking note of social resumes

While it may be tempting to think what happens and what you post on your personal time doesn’t matter, that would be a mistake. A June 2013 CareerBuilder poll found 43 percent of hiring managers who research job candidates online have found something that makes them reject that candidate.

Half of these hiring managers noted they found provocative or inappropriate photos or information that resulted in them passing over a candidate. Other prominent gaffes included references to drug and alcohol use, negative comments about past employers, poor communication skills and discriminatory comments.

However, it isn’t all bad news. Nearly one in five hiring managers say they found information online that made them hire a candidate. According to survey respondents, the following reasons were why a social resume helped cement someone as the right person for the job.

•    Conveyed a professional image: 57 percent
•    Helped the hiring manager get a good feel for the candidate’s personality: 50 percent
•    Showed the candidate was well-rounded with a variety of interests: 50 percent
•    Included information supporting the candidate’s professional qualifications: 49 percent
•    Demonstrated the candidate was creative: 46 percent
•    Demonstrated the candidate had great communication skills: 43 percent

3 steps to create a social resume that will get you hired

If you are searching for a job, you want to have a social resume that is consistent across all channels. Think about what message you want to convey — whether it is that you are creative and enthusiastic or reliable and competent — and use these three steps to make sure your social resume reinforces that message.

1. Evaluate your current social resume

The first step toward getting your online presence ready for employer scrutiny is to see what is already out there.

Search online for your full name, shortened nickname and email address to see what currently rises to the top of the results. Remember that Google personalizes search results so what you see may not be what the hiring manager will see. For a more accurate picture, trying using the computer at the library (be sure you are signed out of your Google account) or ask a friend to search for you.

2. Delete what you can

Next, you need to do damage control. If you have questionable comments on a message board, see if you can delete them or ask if your entire account on the site can be deleted. Set your Facebook profile to private and double check to ensure older posts and photos are shielded from public scrutiny as well. Don’t forget to do the same with other social sharing and photo sites.

The Internet is like an elephant — it never forgets — so it may take some time for questionable search results to disappear. The old information may still also be accessible elsewhere on the Web, but the goal is to get these items off the first few pages of your search results.

3. Fill in with more favorable information

Finally, you need to beef up your professional presence. Not only does this help make your case to hiring managers that you are the right person for the job, it can also help push less desirable search results farther down the list.

Start at LinkedIn by completing your profile and requesting recommendations from past colleagues and supervisors. Then, on all your social networks, be sure you are following the companies at which you are applying as well as any industry associations.

If possible, set up a website with your name as the domain name. Post a portfolio, upload your resume and, if appropriate, start a blog in your niche on the site.

To keep your social resume primed, polished and ready to wow employers, do periodic checks by searching for your name, and keep your LinkedIn profile and website updated. Then, before posting anything new on a public forum, ask yourself if it is something that might come back to haunt you during a future job search.

About the Author:

Maryalene LaPonsie writes about career and education. She contributes to several websites, including OnlineColleges.com.

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