Can Social Media affect your job search? Positively or Negatively?

With the age of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace you can find out many things about a person before actually meeting them. So what does your profile say about you? Are you putting your best foot forward on the social internet. Just as your friends are looking at your pictures to see what you’ve been up to prospective employers are checking out candidates online. What you think could be perceived as just a fun night with friends could spell reckless behavior to an employer. More and more employers are looking at online profiles before making hiring decisions. Colleges too are basing many admissions decisions on what they perceive on the internet.
According to a USA Today article
What you say online could haunt you
By Janet Kornblum and Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY
College student Michael Guinn thought the photos he posted of himself dressed in drag would be seen only by friends. But he made a mistake. And when someone showed the photos on Facebook to administrators at John Brown University, a Christian college in Siloam Springs, Ark., it was “the last straw for them,” says Guinn, 22. 
Be careful what you post: Students are getting expelled for what they post on social websites.

In January, he was kicked out of school, despite repeated warnings, Guinn’s activities were in violation of campus conduct codes.
As more and more students turn to websites such as Facebook and MySpace to chronicle their lives and socialize with friends, they also are learning that their words and pictures are reaching way beyond the peers for whom they were intended. And some, like Guinn, are paying a price. In the past few months, college, high school and even middle school students across the USA have been suspended or expelled, thrown off athletic teams, passed over for jobs and even arrested based on their online postings.
To teens and young adults, social websites are private spaces where they can interact in the open, multimedia style of the online world in which they grew up. But to adults, these sites are places where kids are naïvely putting their reputations and futures — not to mention personal safety — at risk.
• Admissions dean Paul Marthers at Reed College in Portland, Ore., says the school denied admission this year to one applicant in part because his entries on blogging site included disparaging comments about Reed.
• An employer who was ready to hire a student from Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center changed his mind after seeing the student’s Facebook page, says Lauri Sybel, director of the college career center. Since then, Sybel says she has checked other students’ pages to make sure they weren’t hurting their job prospects

With the demand for jobs at an all time high and so many people out of work, companies go the extra steps to ensure the candidates they are selecting will represent them well and are not a risk to the reputation of the company. If you don’t want your parents looking at your Facebook page then you probably wouldn’t want a prospective employer looking at it either. Take steps to ensure your privacy and make sure that you are portraying yourself as someone a company would like representing them.
When posting a profile on LinkedIn make sure you look professional, and have recommendations from previous employers. You can leverage LinkedIn to find out about prospective employers, keep in touch with former business associates and register for and find out about business and networking events in your area. Only accept connections that will increase your value or help you. Being popular and having lots of connections is not always a plus when your connections may be posting images or blogs that are derogatory in nature. Keep political and religious views off of public websites or take steps to ensure only your closest friends have access to this information.
LinkedIn is the preferred business social networking site and has over 72 million users. Facebook is the preferred social networking site with over 300 million users. Many companies are using Twitter to post job openings today and are reading what is being said about them.
Make sure your social reputation is a positive one!