Research released earlier this year showed that the impact your social media profiles has on your chances of bagging that dream job is still on the increase. The 2014 Social Recruiting Survey carried out by recruitment platform, Jobvite revealed that a whopping 93% of hiring managers will look into a candidate’s social media accounts before coming to a final verdict. So whether you’re a fully-fledged freelancer or a graduate looking to kick-start your career, it’s time to get your digital reputation in order.

Not only are prospective employers looking at what you’re posting on your social media channels, they’re using it as a tool to assess your suitability as a possible candidate too. A poll done by social media monitoring service Reppler this social mediatime last year proved that nearly 70% of employees were put off applicants after looking into their online identities. A vast 83% of those surveyed cited references to illegal drugs as being massive turn-offs, while 44% agree that they were also concerned by posts about alcohol. Two thirds of employers admitted that the use of profanities were enough to put them off an applicant and 70% of recruiters took issue with sexual references.

All in all, social media is an extremely powerful and wonderful tool that has transformed the modern business landscape and enabled many aspiring entrepreneurs to realise their dreams. However this power can swing the wrong way if you choose not to use it correctly so finding the right balance between personal and professional is crucial, especially when embarking on a job hunt. Follow our list of dos and don’ts to ensure your digital reputation enhances rather than hinders your applications.

DO:

Use social media as a way to network – As we’ve said before, networking isn’t just for long-standing employees looking to schmooze their way into the next business deal. It’s a great way for graduates and freelancers to expand their connections and online networking is just as effective as offline events.

Connect with people you’ve already done business with, share advice with likeminded job seekers, discuss topics with industry professionals and reach out to potential employers and companies on your hit list. This keeps you in the loop and shows recruiters that you are proactive in bettering yourself as a professional, as well as developing your communication skills.

Capitalise on the right platform – Although there are hundreds of social media services knocking about today, the main platforms that you are likely to be using or looking to take advantage of are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. Whether you’re using one, some or all of these channels, it’s important to ensure the content you are posting is relevant to the platform.

For example, if you’re looking to break into the creative industry and start a career as a graphic designer, photographer or filmmaker, capitalise on visual platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Pinterest is also a great website for demonstrating your creative process and keeping up to date with industry trends. If you’re looking for a career in social media, SEO or marketing then Facebook and Twitter are the ones to watch, while LinkedIn is great for more breaking into more corporate sectors.

A combination of all of these will show off your talents and enable you to create a sort of online portfolio that you can continuously update as you gain more experience and develop your abilities.

Edit your account details – Social media has been around for a while now so most of us will be guilty of hiding an inappropriate email address or being wary of past posts that could pop up at any given moment to leave you a little red-faced. When it comes to crunch time and you’re looking to kick start your career or score a new job, consider scrolling back through your profiles and deleting anything you wouldn’t want cropping up in front of prospective employers. Edit any unprofessional email addresses, usernames or bios to avoid embarrassment and up your chances of appearing in the right search results.

DON’T:

Post controversial content – As we mentioned above, taboo topics like sex and drugs are a no-go when recruiters are trawling through your social media profiles but this doesn’t mean you have to wipe out the rock ‘n’ roll too. An injection of personality into your profiles is always good because dull content will never inspire anybody. Just make sure that you’re considerate about your content to avoid pushing an important nose out of joint as controversial content risks rubbing an employer up the wrong way before they’ve even met you.

So to make this easy, here is a list of things best avoided when posting to your profiles: any references to illegal drugs (yes, even your recent Amsterdam coffeeshop selfie), extreme political or racial opinions, photographs of you dancing topless on a bar in Vegas with a litre of Grey Goose vodka in your hand, offensive language or the use of profanities (time to invest in a swear jar, buddy), poor spelling and grammar (because most employers are as offended by this as they are the F word) and of course, the sharing of others’ controversial content because two wrongs don’t make a right.

Basically, stick to the idea that if you wouldn’t want an employer to see it don’t post it, or at least hide it behind some tight privacy settings. Adjusting your privacy settings will enable you to manipulate what third parties can and can’t see so if you simply have to check in at the Bulldog Coffeeshop with a snap of your brownie, do it privately.

Slam your existing employer – Expressing concerns about a service or product you’ve received, or reaching out to a customer services account is fine as long as you do it professionally. Going at it full throttle and calling companies all of the names under the sun will not only break the no profanities rule, it will also have you looking extremely temperamental to potential employers. Similarly, slating your existing boss or workplace will not earn you a comfy seat as teacher’s pet with future employers, in fact it will more than likely secure you a place on the NO pile.

Give out your log in details – Finally, we’ll keep this one short and sweet. Do not, under any circumstances give out your log in details to strangers or people you don’t trust. Keep sharing your password to a bare minimum or risk other people posting detrimental content on your behalf. This could be third party hackers or even your friends but while a comical post or some temporary spam might seem harmless at first, it could seriously tarnish your digital rep in the long run.