Why a Dodgy Social Media Profile is Better than None

Everyone knows by now that drunken party pics, profane posts, and inappropriate tweets can cost you a job or a job offer.

But did you know that having no social media presence at all can be just as damaging? If you’ve honed your resume to a point of razor sharpness, that’s great. But in 2015, it likely won’t be enough to land you the job or promotion you’re after. This is particularly true in high tech industries, PR and marketing fields and for any industry or company that’s particularly social media savvy.

The more senior the role you’re applying for or the more outward-facing role, the more important it is that you not only have a social media presence, but a sophisticated and active one. And, no matter the level or type of job you’re seeking, having no social media presence is a red flag that can fast-track your resume to the “no” pile. Here are three conclusions a hiring manager or recruiter may draw from you pulling an invisible man act on social media.

1) You’ve got no tech-savvy:

In the new millennium, a lack of technical skills makes you an employment pariah. Having zero social media presence can indicate that you’re inept when it comes to the interwebs. At a minimum, you should have a robust LinkedIn profile with lots of connections and some meaningful endorsements about your job and interpersonal skills. Increasingly, having active and savvy Facebook and Twitter profiles are also preferable to most employers. If you don’t have these social media skills, it can be a red flag that you’re inept, lazy or worse.

According to Forbes, two of the key personality traits employers look for are intellectual curiosity and self-monitoring. Nearly 60% of employers are looking for these traits that are readily demonstrated by a discerning social media presence. Kathy Harris of search firm Harris Allied says employers are attracted to those with “the ability to problem solve and the ongoing dedication to learning new technologies or solutions that will continue to advance in the changing workplace.”

For professionals at any stage of their career, this means embracing trending tech which, at the moment, clearly includes social media. Otherwise, you can look like you’re refusing to upgrade your skills and no employer wants to hire someone who can’t – or won’t – evolve.

2) You’ve done a panic dump:

If you have no social media profiles, but there’s evidence that you once existed on Facebook or Twitter, this is a red flag that you’ve done a dump for some reason. If your social media profiles were a scrapbook of your bad decisions and you did delete them all prior to job searching, you should know that you can’t erase your online shenanigans. Even if you delete the profiles themselves, there will be a digital footprint left behind that will raise question marks about your employability and exactly what you’re trying to hide.

Photos you were tagged in won’t go away and tweets are archived digitally by a number of websites. If it looks like you did a panic delete, an intrepid recruiter may dig deeper looking for dirt. Instead of trying to erase your social media faux pas, clean them up. Make sure your profile pics are work appropriate, update your settings to private, delete old photos that are dodgy and check to see what photos you’re tagged in and ask your Facebook friends to untag you or take down any you’re not comfortable with.

Take the time to assess and refine your profiles and feeds even if you’re not actively job hunting. You never know when a potential employer may be checking you out online and not having clean and compelling social media profiles may cost you an opportunity.

3) You have nothing to offer:

If your LinkedIn profile is simply a digital resume, it’s not going to be impressive to a potential employer and can look like you are two-dimensional and have less to offer than other candidates. And if you have no LinkedIn or other profiles, it leaves a void that can be a red flag that you have nothing to offer. Employers want employees that don’t just show up – they want people that are thinkers and innovators. Active social media profiles can demonstrate these desired traits if leveraged wisely.

On LinkedIn, participating in groups, sharing content and your informed opinions on trending topics show that you’re a thought leader. This is particularly important for those in leadership positions. On Twitter, sharing links on your industry and trends shows that you’re curious and a thinker, not just someone who uses social media for minutiae. Avoid being flippant, overly political, or critical. Instead, show off your analytical skills and insight to make an impression.

You may think no one is looking at your feeds and web presence, but that’s not so. Even if you’re not seeing likes or shares, that doesn’t mean eyes aren’t on it. A few posts a week, cross-promoted across your platforms will establish a meaningful digital footprint that can make you more appealing to potential employers.

Establish or enhance your social media footprint:

Digital evolution has brought us to the point that your social media presence is an inherent – and significant – facet of your professional persona. If your online social presence is non-existent, you’re less than you could be in the eyes of potential employers and recruiters. More than 90% of recruiters now include a social media search as part of their pre-screen and employers regularly scope out their employees online as well.

If you raise any of these red flags, you could be passed over for an opportunity or promotion. So get off the social media sofa – establish profiles if you have none, clean them up if you’ve been sloppy and enhance them with quality interactions that show you’re a person of substance both offline and online.

Author: Rachel Rowan is the lead marketing writer for, a provider of free high-quality resume templates. She has been a freelance writer for more than seven years in the field of HR, finance and tech and has blogged extensively for attorneys, tech companies and professional service firms.

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