Dedicated to helping job seekers find work during the pandemic. Click here to read more

A job seeker's online presence is vital in furthering their career. How job seekers present themselves on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn can improve — or hurt — the chances of landing a desired position. And, with 79 percent of Americans using digital platforms (including a whopping 90 percent of adults ages 18 to 29), and 70 percent of recruiters using those platforms to scan candidates, job seekers can't afford to ignore their online presence.

We reviewed the latest research on how social media is being used in recruiting and hiring practices. The following takeaways will help job seekers get a leg up on the competition:

  • Write posts related to your career on a regular basis. The stats show that employers want to hire someone who is engaged with their profession in — and outside — the office.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile even when you aren't actively looking for a job. Recruiters love LinkedIn, and keeping your profile fresh means less work when you're back on the market. Don't forget: Information on LinkedIn should always match the details on your resume and cover letter.
  • Review your social media history for offensive or inappropriate content. Even if your profile is private, you run a risk of questionable posts from your youth circulating to the HR department.

Social media is a rising star in finding new opportunities.

About a third of workers (35 percent) say they almost entirely learn about job openings on social media platforms, and 41 percent of younger workers are most likely to search for jobs there. Jobvite

In 2017, 58 percent of students were comfortable with an employer contacting them on social media, up from 38 percent in 2015. National Association of Colleges and Employers

Social Media As A Rising Star Mb

Recruiters agree. Their number one resource for finding top candidates is via social media:

Finding Candidate Via Social Media Mb

Top Echelon

LinkedIn and Facebook are recruiters' preferred platforms — but Instagram is gaining ground.

Seventy-seven percent of recruiters take advantage of LinkedIn. Sixty-three percent recruit on Facebook.

Linked In And Fb Mb

In 2018, a quarter of recruiters (25 percent) are investing time in Instagram, especially millennial recruiters (35 percent) and those working at technology companies (63 percent) — double the number in 2017.

Insta Mb

Nearly every company recruits on social media …

The vast majority of organizations (84 percent) already recruit on social media while an additional nine percent plan on starting. SHRM

Company Recruits Social Media Mb

Fortune 500 companies are even more likely to use social media in their recruiting process:

Fortune 500 Mb

UMass Dartmouth

Eighty-two percent of employers say social media has helped them find passive job candidates. SHRM

Social Media Helps Mb

… and some use social media to recruit for every job level.

Percent of recruiters who've recruited at the following job levels:

Every Job Level Mb

SHRM

Employers do more than find worthy candidates on social media platforms ⁠— they weed out bad ones.

Nearly a quarter of employers (22 percent) who check out candidates on social media are looking for a reason to not hire the candidate. They're also checking for:

Find Right Candidate Mb

CareerBuilder

Employers find plenty of reasons to reject candidates, including:

Employers Rejection Reason Mb

CareerBuilder

While it sounds like a minefield, having a social media presence is increasingly important.

Nearly half of employers (47 percent) say that if they can't find a candidate online, they are less likely to call the candidate for an interview.  CareerBuilder

Social Media Importance Mb

Your posts just might help get you hired. Candidates have been hired by showing:

Posts That Helps Mb 1

CareerBuilder

Social media accounts are also a primary source of work for freelancers.

Here are the top five ways freelancers find work:

But always use social media carefully. Many employers keep an eye on your online presence even after you get the job.

Nearly half of employers (48 percent) say they use social media to keep a tab on current employees — 10 percent check every day. CareerBuilder

Online Presence Mb

Your old posts could come back to bite you. Clean up your digital past to avoid future problems.

As of September 2018, only 18 percent of adults in the United States had altered a social media account when they were applying for jobs. Morning Consult

Clean Up Old Posts Mb

Companies should be careful as well. Job candidates are watching your online presence and docking those who have a bad reputation.

Fifty-five percent of job seekers say they've decided against applying for a job after reading a negative review of the company. Career Arc

Bad Repudiated Candidate Mb

One-in-three job seekers say they've shared at least one negative review of a previous or prospective employer. Career Arc

Here are two of the most popular sites for vetting employers (and what you can learn):

Glassdoor

  • AT&T has 23K employee reviews
  • Employers are rated one to five stars in the following categories: culture & values, work/life balance, senior management, compensation and benefits, and career opportunities
  • CEO performance, whether you'd recommend the company to a friend and positive business outlook are rated 1–100

Indeed

  • AT&T has 40.7K employee reviews
  • Employers are rated one to five stars in the following categories: work/life balance, compensation/benefits, job security/advancement, management and culture
  • CEO performance is rated 1–100
  • Top questions about the company

Social media is an increasingly important part of our work lives and can be a major advantage in your job search — as long as you use it wisely. To get ahead of the competition, read the other articles in our 2020 employment stats series:

Donald Sjoerdsma

Donald Sjoerdsma

Career Advice Expert

Don is a freelance writer with more than five years' experience in digital media. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Oprah.com, Yahoo! and HuffPost. While at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, his creative use of archival content...

More Articles by Donald Sjoerdsma