8 ways to make your social media profile an employer magnet

Social media matters more than ever in a job search. Nail your online presence with these recruiter-approved tweaks.

8 ways to make your social media profile an employer magnet

Social media has long since proven itself to have utility beyond tweeting at celebrities and creeping on photos of old high school classmates. Nowadays, it can be a powerful self-promotional tool—and more than ever, recruiters are turning to sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to seek out their next hires.

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 65% of employers have made hires through social media sites. That’s the kind of number that should make you whip out your phone and swiftly delete those beer bong shots from your Facebook profile.

“[Social media] sites have been game changers for the hiring and recruiting industry,” said Gustavo Pena, managing partner of Ascendo Resources, which collaborated with SHRM on the study. “It is another resource for us to make many great connections for our clients while ensuring a seamless hiring process.”

Not every industry is equally concerned about social media. Employers in the communications and public relations field ranked it most highly, with 82% describing it as important. On the other side of the spectrum, transportation and construction employers considered it more of an extra, with only 13% and 14% regarding it as important, respectively.

Regardless of your field, though, you should be aware of how you look on social media, and do everything you can to make your online self as attractive to potential employers as the genuine article. These are the eight main things they said job candidates can do to optimize their social media presence, in order of importance.

1. Have a complete (and relevant) profile (77%)

If you’re using LinkedIn, make sure your profile is fully loaded with your complete employment history, education, as well as any skills related to your job. Try to think through the eyes of a recruiter—no one wants to see a half-written resume, or worse, a big empty space.

2. Keep it professional (73%)

Those beer bong photos we mentioned? Toss ’em. Nothing is truly private on the Internet, and it would be a shame to miss out on a potential job opportunity because of some embarrassing Cinco de Mayo shots from four years ago. You’re better off assuming that if you wouldn’t want your mother to see something, it’s best kept offline…or at least under maximum, friends-only security settings.

3. Join career-relevant groups (47%)

Social media is full of great groups that can connect you with likeminded job seekers and offer industry-specific insights. It’s also full of groups like “Cat Videos and Cake Pictures”—which, while still very compelling, may not be immediately relevant to your career interests. It’s fine to join a couple of these, but make sure you’re primarily participating in groups that relate to your actual or targeted job.

4. Highlight skills and achievements that help employers (39%)

In your career history, be judicious about what you choose to bring to the forefront. We don’t need to know about how you organized the office softball league, took them to the championship, and have a team of interns polish your trophies every night. Instead, try talking about specific goals you’ve met, and fortify your claims with numbers. For example: “Delivered target of $X in added revenue while cutting costs by X%.”

5. Update your profile frequently (38%)

Don't just create a profile and let it collect dust. It’s important to stay active on all social media sites. Start a new job? Post an update. Get a promotion? Update your title. If you’re a vice president of client relations, you don’t want a profile that says you still work in the mailroom.

6. Keep your connections career-focused (35%)

Getting requests to connect from old roommates and people you barely remember from high school is only to be expected on social media, but you want to make sure the majority of the people in your LinkedIn circles are in your career cohort. This gives employers the impression that you’re plugged in to your particular niche, and is especially helpful when applying for a job that lists a strong Rolodex as a core requirement.

7. Provide a clear link to your email address (32%)

Say a recruiter sees your profile and wants to get in touch with you about a potential job opportunity. Can they find your email address in a matter of seconds? Make sure it’s linked somewhere that’s clear and easy to see, because the last thing anyone wants to do is go on a wild goose chase just to get your contact info.

8. Have a professional-looking headshot (31%)

As in online dating, a decent headshot is key to having a strong LinkedIn profile. No matter how much you love your souvenir tank top from Twisted Sister’s 2008 reunion tour, this isn’t the right place to be seen rocking it. That’s not to say you need to wear formal office attire (business casual is fine) but it pays to look engaged, put-together, and hopefully not too grainy.