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Your attire, handshake and eye contact still matter significantly. But if your head is in the sand about your media presence, you need to get serious about ensuring your public media persona – your true first impression – is up to snuff.

In a study of 300 corporate hiring professionals conducted by social media monitoring service Reppler, the following was discovered:

  • 91% used social networking sites to screen candidates
  • 76% used Facebook, 53% used twitter and 48% used LinkedIn
  • 47% looked at candidates’ social network as a decision factor before contacting the candidate for the first interview
  • 69% have rejected a candidate based on what they saw
  • 68% have hired candidates based on what they saw

With almost 70% of hiring professionals rejecting or hiring based on your social media image, this demands your attention, especially since nearly half will seek your online profiles when they are deciding whether or not to invite you in for the first interview.

Are You Two-faced?

I may be dating myself here, and I’m still young enough to have only seen reruns, but nobody wants to hire an “Eddie Haskell” – someone who acts the part during the hiring process, and then turns out to be a fraud.

Employers are looking for immature behavior, poor communication skills, bad habits, and inappropriate photos. Obvious red flags are bad-mouthing employers, information about criminal behavior, use of an employer’s confidential information, and other morally offensive behavior.

Be selective of your online connections and monitor your pages and picture tags very often. Of your friends and family you may be the most virtuous, but employers may associate their bad behavior with you. If the class clown from high school is posting crass humor on your page, consider putting an end to his or her posts.

Do You Have a Positive Attitude?

Your social media image can also work for you if it is your content, language and pictures are clean and family-appropriate. Be positive and optimistic. Post about relevant subject matter in your profession, and create online networks of other enlightened professionals.

Sharing articles that your professional contacts will find enlightening is a great way to network. Post insights from trade association meetings and conventions you attend. Ask for support for charitable causes you support.

Do You Have The Basics Covered?

Your phone and email are also part of your media-self. Do not leave the default voicemail message on your phone. Personalize your voicemail greeting with a simple statement saying that you are away from the phone and will return the call right away. Avoid extraneous background that may make an impression on the caller such as music, wind, or recording your message in a loud public place. If you use a shared land line, be certain the other users will provide a good impression when they answer, and will take a detailed message for you.

Your personal email address and signature should also reflect your professionalism. Avoid incorporating your hobbies and interests into your email address, and stick to using your name only. As well, ensure that any images or information in your email signature is positive and relevant.

Mark Twain said, “It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” This was never more appropriate than in your social media presence.

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