A recent survey of more than 2,300 hiring managers and human resources professionals by showed that more than one-third of them use social media sites to check up on job candidates, about 37 percent. Of those that did, about two-thirds used both Facebook and LinkedIn to review applicants, while only about 15 percent used Twitter.

Companies gave a number of reasons why they used the social media sites. The reason given most often – by about two-thirds of the companies – was to see if the job candidate presents himself or herself in a professional manner. About half looked at an applicant’s online profile to determine whether the person would be a good fit for the company. And half of the companies also said they looked to see if they can learn more about the candidate’s qualifications. Another third reported looking to see how well-rounded the applicant’s background was. And about 10 percent said they looked to see if there was anything on the site that might disqualify the candidate from the job.

About one-third of the company officials who looked online said they found information there that led them to cross the candidate off of their list. Some of the major reasons why candidates were dumped included inappropriate photos; talk about drinking or using drugs; evidence of poor communication skills; bad mouthing a former employer; evidence of discrimination based on race, gender or religion; and lying about qualifications.

The reasons cited by the companies for tossing candidates should provide a warning to everyone who uses social media sites. The number one reason for disqualifying a candidate was having an inappropriate photo on a site. Almost half of the companies disqualified applicants for that reason alone.

So, take heed if you’re actively looking for a job or if you plan to be looking – review all of the photos on your site and make sure all of them portray you in a positive way. Make sure they are professional – you should be dressed well, be well groomed, and look dignified. Lose the goofy looks or poses and remove any photos where you are horsing around. No photo is value neutral, that is, anyone who sees your photo is going to make some kind of judgment about you based on how you present yourself, so make sure you present yourself at your best.

For more tips on how to present yourself successfully to an employer, contact Winston Resources. We’ve been helping NYC-area job seekers find work since 1967, so we know a thing or two (or two thousand) about impressing employers. Contact us today!

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