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Finding a Job

Cleaning Up Your Social Media Presence

When you're job-hunting, social media can be a double-edged sword.

Photograph by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

When you're job-hunting, social media can be a double-edged sword.

Are you one of the 955 million users on Facebook (FB)? How about LinkedIn (LNKD), with over 160 million users? Do you tweet?

Social media are a given in our lives. They are a great tool for staying in touch and communicating with people, as well as a critical channel for networking when doing a job search.That said, social media are a bit of a double-edged sword.

Today’s recruiters are using the same tools to find out about others and to learn about you. Have you reviewed your history on Facebook? Which photos are public? Do you have posts on Facebook that anyone can view? Are those going to be seen as a positive or negative reflection of you by a recruiter or hiring manager?

LinkedIn is predicted to be the dominant recruiting portal of the future. Many employers I speak with actively use LinkedIn to source talent and to check out people before they interview them. Before meeting with someone for the first time, I automatically go to LinkedIn to learn a bit about his or her background.

If I’m interviewing a candidate for a job, I check out the LinkedIn profile to see what is posted. Does your profile match your résumé? Have you spent the time ensuring that your online profile is rich in information that will give the reader a better impression of you and your experiences?

As a job seeker, it is important that you understand the search process from the recruiter’s and hiring manager’s perspectives. Too often, job seekers are wrapped up in seeing things only through their own lenses. To be successful and more strategic about your search, I encourage you to put on the other party’s hat for a moment.

If you understand the tools the recruiter is using to identify talent, you then know how to best present yourself when using those tools. For example, if you know recruiters are using LinkedIn to identify talent and you know the type of position you’d like, is your profile reflective of the key characteristics/traits for that type of role? If you are looking to become a marketing manager, are you highlighting the same accomplishments and qualities you’ve highlighted in your résumé? You’ve spent an agonizing number of hours on your résumé. Have you spent enough time and effort on your LinkedIn profile?

What about the information you’ve put out in cyberspace through Facebook and Twitter? You may want to go back and review your tweets. Is there anything embarrassing out there? I suggest you ask a good friend to take a look at your tweets and Facebook page through the lens of a recruiter or hiring manager. It can be difficult to judge oneself.

Social media are terrific. But be mindful as a professional that you don’t want anything out there that could prevent you from being the candidate of choice. Take a closer look at your electronic profile.

Join the discussion on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business School Forum, visit us on Facebook, and follow @BWbschools on Twitter.

Hori is the associate dean of corporate partnerships at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She is the former head of Kellogg’s Career Management Center where she counseled MBA students on careers for more than 16 years.

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