Does Your Social Media Presence Really Affect Your Job Chances?

The start of the spring term marks the beginning of the recruitment season on college campuses across the country – and I don't mean football or Greek life. I'm talking about corporate recruiting. Calling it a recruitment season is completely accurate, as it feels more so like a recruitment cartel. They (the faceless corp-lords) control jobs that are available in limited supply.

They compete for control of certain campuses and upperclassmen hopefuls compete for limited spots. With such high competition and, presumably, even higher stakes, it is no wonder that the selection criteria veers away from strict resume evaluation — your social media presence is very much a part of your resume package.

If your status updates include snarky complaints about professors, employers will see it as badmouthing and gossiping.

If you have more than 300 likes on each of your profile pictures, employers may believe you to be an attention whore or an exhibitionist; you may get a second-round interview.

"If u rite lyke dis?!?," employers will probably assume you have poor communication skills. In fact, some employers definitely do.

If you communicate your emotional mood swings statuses solely in emojis, employers may find you to be creatively important.

When taking steps toward building a brighter professional future, you must prepare your social media presence to reflect the person you bring to interviews: Cue panic. Frantic Facebook name changes and photo untagging binges reflect a heightened sense of desperation. While social networking etiquette is definitely worthy of your attention, new findings reveal that panicking might be a waste of energy.

A Microsoft Research survey cited that in 2010, 70 percent of recruiters had rejected applicants based on intel gathered from online snooping. But surprisingly, the most damning sin was not the photos that featured applicants chugging Four Loko, but simply, lying about qualifications.

Some terrified young professionals turned to Reppler, a startup that specializes in online reputation management. Basically, it strips your Facebook of indiscretions that could bar you from professional success. In 2011, Reppler released its own survey to analyze hiring patterns. Almost half of the respondents reported the online stalking process begins right after an employer receives an application.

A bit of good news is that the reverse is also true; according to Reppler, 68 percent of recruiters ended up hiring applicants based on their online dossiers. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Tumblr and MySpace all count. In particular, employers cited demonstrated creativity, well-roundedness and authenticity to be indicators of good employment potential. A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology reported that Facebook provides an accurate reflection of job performance.

A bit more good news is that the study was wrong and a new study is now in vogue. Researchers at Florida State University, Old Dominion University, Clemson University and Accenture report that that recruiter ratings of Facebook profiles do not correlate with job performance — at all. The study goes a step further and urges human resources staffers to warn managers against using Facebook to review their applicants. So, the days of recruiters using your social media presence as a primary reference may be diminishing.

So rejoice, job seekers! The stigma is changing. But, remember to keep in mind how important your public image was when you thought it would affect your professional success. Use this as motivation to be the best you both online and in real life.

Photo credit: RKOI