Social media can make or break a job opportunity. Sixty percent of employers check candidates’ social media, according to Hiring Site.
This statistic has increased from 52 percent last year, according to CareerBuilder. This number was found by a national survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder from Feb. 10 to Mar. 17, 2016.
If a candidate applies for an information technology job, it is more likely he or she will have their social media accounts screened than any other candidate applying in another field, according to the survey. The survey also showed 76 percent of employers said they would screen candidates in the field of information technology.
Professional and business services candidates are screened less. According to the survey, 55 percent of employers said they would screen these candidates.
BYU marketing senior Eric McIntyre works in the field of financial services. According to the Harris Poll survey, 61 percent of employers said they will check candidates’ social media in this field.
It is best to think before posting on social media when applying for a job, McIntyre suggested. A good rule of thumb he has used is to think what his mother, wife or boss would think if they saw the post.
BYU career development professor Bill Keenan said employers probably look at social media in two categories: the negative and the positive.
Students should avoid anything that can be viewed as inappropriate or offensive, Keenan said. He said one red flag employers may see on social media platforms is when students post extreme opinions.
“Generally they’re looking for (things) that will suggest this is a person that either has erratic behavior or is more erratic on either side of the spectrum than they’re hoping for,” Keenan said.
Students should post about the industry they’re interested in, according to Keenan. This shows the employer they are knowledgeable and active in discussion about their field.
Andrew Coffman is a finance graduate from BYU and director of development in the Provo office of Northwestern Mutual. Coffman said students will impress employers if they post about volunteer experience.
“That says a lot about someone if they’re sharing that with their friends,” Coffman said. “That’s a pretty neat thing to see.”
McIntyre advised students to create a LinkedIn account and proactively update it when applying for jobs.
“If you’re in college, even if you’re a freshman, and don’t have a LinkedIn, you’re behind,” McIntyre said. “Be trying to fill that with as much relevant experience and content as you possibly can.”
Coffman said he focuses primarily on students’ LinkedIn accounts when thinking of whether he should hire them. He said LinkedIn serves more as a resume than traditional resumes do in the business industry today.
“If (a student’s) LinkedIn is well put together, and they have it well organized,” Coffman said, “then I view that as this student is proactive.”
BYU internet marketing professor Jeff Larson said it is important to network on social media — specifically LinkedIn — on top of building background and experience.
“Even if you have a job that you like, (social networking) has made it a lot easier to find opportunities to take an even better job,” Larson said.
Students should also stay in contact with their classmates on LinkedIn after they graduate in order to find better opportunities, according to Larson.
Coffman said students shouldn’t add just anyone on LinkedIn, as one might on Facebook. Adding people on LinkedIn with no professional connection or benefit to a student can be hurtful.
“LinkedIn should much more be a network of people you know reasonably well and would be happy to introduce to someone for professional benefit,” Coffman said.
He said often BYU students’ LinkedIn accounts are often connected with thousands of people, when really they only know 30 of those people.
McIntyre believes his professional and up-to-date LinkedIn account has helped him to get where he is now.
“I get job offers every other week, just because my LinkedIn is pretty well put together,” McIntyre said.