Think you know how to find a job on Twitter or LinkedIn? Think again. Whether you’re looking for an accountant job in Arlington Heights or a career as a web developer in Wrigleyville, knowing how to create a compelling presence on social media sites can help you grab that next job. 

We asked Barbara Gonzalez, an interview coach and owner of Chicago Interview Coach & Career Services based in Chicago, Illinois, for tips on how to use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter effectively in a job search, and which pitfalls you should avoid.

Barbara Gonzalez (credit: Megan Horst Hatch)

Barbara Gonzalez (credit: Megan Horst Hatch)

Using an inappropriate picture. You know not to use a profile picture of yourself lounging poolside with a cocktail in your hand, but are you still using the right kind of picture online? According to Gonzalez, job seekers should use pictures that convey professionalism. “You want to look ready to work, so wear business attire. Now is not the time to wear a sleeveless shirt,” she suggested, adding that men should wear a suit and tie and women should wear a suit with a blouse. “If possible, get a professional picture taken, and get your hair and makeup done as well. Look engaging, look right at the camera and smile,” she advised.

Forgetting to update your LinkedIn profile. So you have information on your current and previous job titles on LinkedIn. If you think you never have to look at your account again, guess what — you do. According to Gonzalez, job seekers should continue to update their LinkedIn profiles and keep them in sync with new professional developments, even if they haven’t changed jobs. “Review and update your profile and add any new skills you’ve learned, training classes you’ve taken or certifications you’ve achieved. You should also look for new connections,” she said. As a rule of thumb, Gonzalez recommended that job seekers should update their profiles every three months, if not more frequently.

Refusing to connect with former colleagues. Did you find a former colleague on LinkedIn? While you may not have seen each other in more than 10 years, Gonzalez said you should still seek a connection with them and see what they are doing these days, both personally and professionally. “You should try to reconnect with former colleagues and catch up with them. Besides, you never know where that connection will take you,” she said.

Omitting your impact. Is your resume a recitation of what you did at your last job? If so, you might want to retool it, especially if it’s posted on LinkedIn. “You want to discuss the impact you had in your past jobs,” Gonzalez said. “Did you increase sales or cut costs? What was the value you brought to the company? You can use LinkedIn to convey what it was that you did in your last job that would make a company want to hire you.”

Discussing hot-button issues and posting too often. While it’s tempting to discuss politics or religion on Twitter or Facebook, Gonzalez advised against doing so. “You can hurt your brand by discussing controversial topics on social media,” she said. Don’t clog everyone’s feed by constantly tweeting or updating your status, either. “People might be turned off by your frequent posts, and they might block you from popping up in their newsfeed,” Gonzalez said. This could hurt you in the long run, especially if you are trying to stay connected to previous colleagues and would like a recommendation from them in the future.

Writing only negative things about your previous employer. Regardless of your feelings about your past job or two, Gonzalez said you should remain positive when discussing a past job — especially if you’re writing it online.  Don’t write complaints or badmouth your manager, boss or colleagues on social media platforms.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at

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