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How Your Social Media Presence Can Impact Your Candidacy

Before the rise of social networks like Facebook and Instagram, job seekers did not have a digital footprint to consider when applying for a job. Today, 73 percent of Americans use more than one of the eight major social media platforms, according to recent data from the Pew Research Center. The average user in the U.S. regularly logs on to at least three of the eight platforms. As social media becomes more popular, it's becoming an important vetting tool in the hiring process. Your social media presence can both help and hinder your candidacy, depending on how you portray yourself online. 

How a strong social media presence can help your candidacy 
Social media skills are increasingly becoming a top strength for many fields across most industries. If you aren't clearly displaying your prowess in social networking, you may be missing out on opportunities at top companies. When employers can see candidates strategizing, branding or marketing themselves through social media, they are that much more likely to view such individuals as an asset to their team. A strong and effective social media presence can give you a leg up against the competition. 

When a social media presence - or lack of - can harm your potential 
The No. 1 thing that 39 percent of hiring managers reported looking for in a review of a job seeker's social media presence was questionable content or behavior, according to data from the 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study. Another 27 percent say active engagement in professional and trade associations throughout a candidate’s social media list is second on their list. 

Nineteen percent of employers also reported that offensive social or political views presented on social networks were flagged when analyzing a candidate. As a result, keeping a clean profile and avoiding politics is a smart practice. Similarly, making your personal life accessible only to friends on networking sites, or creating a secondary, professional account can further benefit your candidacy. 

What may be surprising to some job applicants is that a lack of social media presence can hinder your candidacy as well. Citing data from the CareerBuilder's annual survey, the Society for Human Resource Management reported that 35 percent of employers are not as likely to consider an applicant for an interview if they do not have an online presence. Increasingly, recruiters are accessing the professional network platforms of potential candidates to research more about the individual. 

The future of social media reviews 
At present, the majority of employers do not conduct formal reviews of social media pages, often considered as similar to background or credit checks. However, the 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study found that 18 percent of employers do perform these audits and moreover, a notable 17 percent of organizations are considering doing so in the future. This points to a growing trend of employers formalizing social media reviews and incorporating them as a key part of the recruitment and hiring process. Consider how your social media presence may impact your current and future candidacy.

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