By: Amanda Azzarelli

While most people recognize LinkedIn as a professional networking site, many people still view Facebook and Twitter as personal online diaries. If you are using your accounts to grumble about your annoying boss or post funny party pictures from the weekend, you may want to rethink your social media strategy. Below I explore three common social media misconceptions and suggestions for improving your profiles. 

Misconception 1: “Employers won’t care what I have on my social media accounts.”

More and more companies are taking social media into consideration throughout the hiring process. According to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, 93 percent of recruiters review a candidate’s social profile before making a hiring decision. These recruiters are looking for professional experience, industry-related posts, mutual connections, cultural fit and examples of written or design work. The survey also showed that posts including profanity, spelling/grammar error, illegal drug references, sexual references, alcohol and guns can cause recruiters to reconsider hiring a candidate. Your social media activity is a big component of your personal brand, so do yourself a favor and remove any and all of the above references from your profiles.

Misconception 2: “I can hide from recruiters by increasing my privacy settings or changing my username.”

Privacy settings can be confusing, and recruiters may be able to see more of your information than you realize. First, double-check that your information is as secure as you think. Some people resort to changing their names on their accounts to hide from potential employers. While replacing your last name with your middle name can be an effective way of keeping recruiters away from your inappropriate photos and profane posts, hiding may not be in your best interest. Studies prove having no social media presence can be damaging to your job search as well.

According to CareerBuilder’s Social Media Recruitment Survey, 35 percent of employers are less likely to bring you in for an interview if they can’t find you online. Potential employers may also request links to your profiles when you apply for a job. Rather than hiding behind fake names and privacy settings, you may want to consider adjusting the content on your profile to reflect your best self.

Misconception 3: “I need to create separate professional social media accounts.”

There are pros and cons to separating your personal profiles from your professional profiles. While there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer, I prefer the idea of using one single account for both professional and personal purposes. The reason for this? Transparency. I don’t go into a job interview and pretend to be a different person, so there is no reason to do that on social media. I try to constantly portray myself in a positive light, and I want to work for an organization that respects my interests and values. This is a decision you need to make for yourself, but know that a balance between personal and professional posts is completely attainable. Most hiring managers prefer to hire candidates with personality over a robot who only shares industry-related posts. Personally, if a company does not want to hire me because I retweeted the “Damn Daniel” video, it probably isn’t a good cultural fit for me anyway.

How are you using social media in your job search?