THE BLOG
10/16/2014 03:01 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

How Social Media Can Make or Break Your Job Search

Is what you're posting on Facebook the reason you didn't get that job? As recruiters increasingly turn to social media during the hiring process, the answer could very well be "yes." A recent study by Jobvite, a social recruiting platform, found that an overwhelming 93 percent of recruiters look at a candidate's social profile. In addition, a recent survey from the job site CareerBuilder found that more than half of employers who researched job candidates on social media found content that caused them not to hire the candidate.

As an employer for many years, I've seen firsthand the blunders candidates can make on social media. With potential employers' eyes focused on your online presence, recent grads - or anyone in the job market - need to be sure they are presenting themselves in the best possible light on social media. Here are four basic rules for ensuring social media success when job seeking:

1. Keep it Clean. First and foremost, adhere to social media etiquette. Begin by taking inventory. Make sure your privacy settings are in place and sanitize your social media platforms to ensure you don't have embarrassing posts, pics or tweets. Once you've sanitized your social media content, keep up the good behavior. According to the study by Jobvite, recruiters reacted most negatively to the use of profanity. The second-biggest turn-off for employers were grammatical or punctuation errors. Other social media "don'ts" for job seekers cited in the Jobvite survey include posting discriminatory or offensive comments, inappropriate photos, and bad-mouthing previous employers or former co-workers. All of this reflects bad form and, at worst, poor character or, at best, a lack of judgment - neither of which will look good to an employer.

2. Create a Solid LinkedIn Presence: Recruiters prefer LinkedIn as their first place to find and vet candidates. The Jobvite survey shows that 94 percent of recruiters are active on LinkedIn. Make sure you are up to date and active on LinkedIn and any other networks relevant to your field. Furthermore, the survey found that college-educated people are four times as likely to update their LinkedIn profile with professional information than those who have a high-school education or less. Make sure you stand out among the LinkedIn elite with an up-to-date profile, complete with a photo that projects a polished, professional appearance.

3. Create Expert Content for Your Social Channels: A great way to build up a strong online profile is by creating quality content. Write blogs and articles to establish yourself as a credible, knowledgeable source in your field. Recruiters will do more than just check your social media profiles; they'll go ahead and run an Internet search to see what comes up about you online. According to the CareerBuilder survey, 45 percent of employers use search engines such as Google to research potential job candidates, with 20 percent saying they do so frequently or always. Setting up your own professional blog where you can post your articles -- or submitting your stories as guest posts to other industry-relevant blogs -- will lend substance to the Google results recruiters will find when searching about you online. The content you create will also help support your social media success, too, as you can post and share links to your blogs through your various social media accounts.

4. Consider the Complete Social Media Picture: It's proven in one survey and study after another that employers desire and seek out candidates who have emotional intelligence. With more information at their fingertips, recruiters and employers are able to assess your "EQ" in a matter of minutes via all of the breadcrumbs left in mainstream social media. From your likes, to what or whom you follow, what you comment upon and your activity level, a savvy employer can create a preliminary assessment about the kind of person you are. Posting selfies all the time? They may assume you're a narcissist - and perhaps unable to be a true team player. Writing snarky comments on one post after another? They may assume you're a negative personality - not a good choice for any team. Show you care about others by liking or endorsing their posts - assuming the posts are clean and appropriate. Show you care about your current or former employers by being a supportive alumnus. If you donate your time and talent to worthwhile causes, let your online profiles reflect that. Doing this will contribute to a positive and more complete and accurate picture of who you are - which is the one you want your prospective employer to see.

The Bottom Line
Gone are the days when sprucing up your resume was enough. Today, recruiters have much more information about you at their disposal than just what is on your CV. As recruiters overwhelmingly turn online to find and vet job candidates, it's essential that you polish up your resume and your social media presence.