Social Media and the Job Search: Leveraging Your Digital Footprint

Southern Illinois University



Journeys May 2015

Social Media and the Job Search: Leveraging Your Digital Footprint

Job search with social mediaby Michelle Garrett, Career Services Specialist

Make no mistake, social media is a part of our daily lives. We update our Facebook statuses, Tweet our thoughts on all manner of subjects, post pictures of our daily activities on Instagram, and upload videos on YouTube. Social media allows us to reconnect with past classmates and keep up-to-date with the lives of family and friends. However, social media is much more than merely a way to pass the time and keep up with relationships. In terms of our professional lives, social media can be a strategic tool when applied to the job search.   

The first step in using social media to locate that perfect job or internship is to clean up your digital footprint. For example, use Google to search yourself and see what appears, and take a look at your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts from a professional prospective. Based upon your findings, would you hire yourself? According to a 2013 article regarding jobs with American Online, Inc. (AOL), the top five types of status updates that repel recruiters and hiring managers are references to illegal drugs, any posts of sexual nature, posts or pictures demonstrating over-indulgence of alcohol, the use of profanity, and poor spelling or grammar.   

Examples of employer-friendly posts may include: links to articles or blog entries that you have written, videos highlighting your public speaking experiences, news about interesting projects on which you are working, short narratives about books you are reading, appropriate photos of your life that peek human interest, and samples of your academic and professional work. Most importantly, you need to post information that demonstrates a genuine interest and knowledge of your career field.   

Once you have cleaned up your digital footprint and begun to post more employer-friendly information, create a LinkedIn account ( LinkedIn is a professional social network that allows you to connect with millions of potential colleagues. Users come together to share their career expertise, experience, and passion for their work. LinkedIn not only allows you to search more efficiently, but it also enhances your job performance and career goals, as you build a strong network of professional connections. 

Here are several tips to build a strong student profile on LinkedIn: 

  • Include a professional headshot as your profile picture. 
  • Craft a headline including your area of study and career ambitions. 
  • Write a keyword-rich summary that includes the type of positions you are seeking. 
  • Include volunteer activities, internships, and extra-curricular activities. 
  • Ask professors, advisors, internship colleagues and supervisors to write recommendations for you. 

It is important to keep in mind that although social media is a strong tool, it should not be your only resource in your professional tool box.  In order to maximize your job search, remember to utilize various strategies.  Additionally, you should make sure that your resume and cover letter writing capabilities are fine-tuned, and that you can effectively highlight your skills and abilities. Remember that University Career Services is here to assist you with all aspects of career planning and development.  Career Services is located in the Student Services Building suite 179, and can also be found at