It’s happened to all of us: you’re just nearing the end of that job application when you’re asked for links to your social media accounts. While most employers don’t require that you share, chances are that if your accounts exists, they’ll find them anyway. In fact, about a third of employers screen applicants via social media before making a decision.

Instead of viewing this as a negative, you can view social media as a tool to use to your advantage! You have an amazing opportunity to show potential employers who you are, while developing a personal brand that will only serve you in the future. Not to mention, your job opportunities are more likely to be aligned with your interests and values if you’re engaging online with topics that interest you.

So how can you utilize your social media channels to better your chances at getting hired? Well, the secret certainly isn’t just cleaning up inappropriate content. Here are four things employers look for on your online accounts that might actually help you get the job:

  1. Your personality – Sharing Forbes articles on your Facebook page might show your interest in the business world, but it doesn’t say much about your personality. Many employers turn to social media to get an idea about what a candidate is really like, as opposed to the information provided on a cookie-cutter resume. As long as your interests are appropriate, be sure to show your authentic self online (ahem, your authentic, appropriate self).
  2. How well you fit into the company’s culture – Hiring an employee isn’t just about whether he or she can do the job well. Instead, employers must take into consideration how well a candidate will fit into the company’s culture. If you retweet discriminatory content and you’re looking to work at a company that is serious about diversity, chances are you won’t be a good fit. (Discriminatory content will turn off pretty much any employer).
  3. How your friends talk about you – If your LinkedIn profile or Facebook wall is filled with nice comments or praise from your friends, family and colleagues, chances are employers will become more interested in you. Who doesn’t want to work with a well-liked, competent individual?
  4. Your interests – Employers appreciate when candidates actually care about the field to which they’re applying. For example, if you’re applying for a job in entertainment and you consistently retweet and engage with media companies or entertainment news, you have clearly displayed an interest in the industry. Not only can you show potential employers what you’re interested in, but you have the chance to show you’re a subject matter expert. Starting a blog or at least staying active on social media can help you stand out among other candidates.

It’s important not to tailor your social media accounts specifically to each job for which you apply. First of all, no job is guaranteed, and even if you’re hired, you may not be at that company for an extended amount of time. Re-vamping your social media accounts for every job for which you apply would be a full time job, and a waste of time. Second, employers want to see who you really are. If you come across as a well-liked individual who is passionate about the industry on your social media accounts, but act rude or uninformed once at work, your time at that job might be cut short.

Are your social media accounts ready? If so, download Rake to get started on your search! You never know where a new opportunity may come from, and preparing and using your social media profiles may help you land an awesome new gig.