Before you start job-hunting, you’ll likely clean up your resume, dig your interview outfit out of storage and dust off your portfolio. These are all important steps. However, you also need to consider your social media presence before you start submitting applications.

Employers increasingly screen candidates using social media. One survey found that 70 percent of employers use social media to research job candidates. Of those, over half found content that caused them not to hire someone. Making a bad impression on social media could cost you a job.

Candidates need to actively make good online impressions in order to stand out in the crowd. Though hiring managers are wary of bad online behavior, they are generally even more attentive to a candidate’s qualifications and personality. So, a knockout profile could actually make the difference in hiring decisions.

Considering how much social media can influence the hiring process, it’s important to keep a close eye on your online image, especially during the job-hunting process. There are a few things every job seeker should do to their social media profiles before they start checking job boards.

Clean up your image

The most important thing you can do to your social media before job-hunting is to clean up anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. Limit access to personal accounts through privacy settings, avoid posting things that make you seem unprofessional and cut ties with any old Facebook friends who may harbor unsavory opinions.

In particular, some red flags employers look out for include posts that contradict a resume, slander about co-workers or old jobs, posts containing discriminatory attitudes or language and, of course, inappropriate pictures and videos.

In order to prevent negative impressions, do yourself a favor and distinguish between public and private accounts. If you’re worried about stuff you posted years ago in college, make those old accounts private and limit access to your posts so your professional accounts have more room to breathe.

Also be aware of what platforms lead to the most problems — 85 percent of hiring managers check Facebook to learn about candidates. Accordingly, Facebook is also where they find the most incriminating information, which could be because most people have had profiles for a long time. Even if you don’t think there are any problems with your profile, you should still check to be safe.

Make your profile appealing

After you’ve managed any problems with your profile, you should take some time to spiff it up a little. You want your social media to sparkle as much as your fancy new dress shoes.

Make your profile appealing to hiring managers by projecting a consistent, businesslike image. Use a professional headshot as your profile picture, go by your real name instead of a silly screen name, and provide a clear description of who you are and what you do. If you can, try to brand yourself visually across platforms. You should also provide a way to contact you, such as a business email.

Though you want to be professional, also keep in mind that you shouldn’t cleanse your profile of all personality. Aim for an even balance of attitude and aptitude — posting clever jokes and being active in your industry don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Show off your work

In some industries, social media profiles double as portfolios. If you’re a writer, photographer, artist or other creator, you can use social media to your advantage. When job-hunting, you can use social media to show you’re right for the job.

The best way to use social media to your advantage is to promote your work and show off your skills. If you’re a photographer, post some of your best photos on a professional Instagram account. If you’re a writer, share links to stories you admire and engage with people that have published your work.

No matter what industry you’re in, you can impress employers by engaging with professionals in your area. Follow respected industry leaders and the accounts of companies you admire. Don’t just follow them — engage with them too. Share your thoughts. Make insightful connections.

By showing off your skills, knowledge and passion on social media, you’ll show employers you’re serious about the job.

Curate your online presence

Keeping a tidy social media presence seems most important while job-hunting. However, the truth is that many employers continue to monitor employees’ social media even after they’re hired. It’s important to curate a positive online presence all the time.

Striking a healthy balance between personal and professional can make all the difference in a career, and social media is no exception. Taking the time to think about how you’re posting can really pay off.

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