Facebook Add Friend ButtonThe birth of social media seems to have brought with it a slew of questions regarding the professionalism of the Internet in general and what part social media can play in the job market.

According to Jobvite’s annual Social Recruiting Survey, 92 percent of U.S. companies are using social media and networks to discover talent in 2012. That is up from 78 percent just five years ago. The top three sites? Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, LinkedIn at number one. Two-thirds of companies are recruiting through Facebook and, at 54 percent, a little over half use Twitter for the same thing.

Having proven itself to be a successful tool for both job seekers and recruiters, more and more people are starting to wonder how far they need to go in order to garner the support and attention of the companies that they are looking to work for. It is evident that recruiters are already looking up the profiles of potential applicants, so should people just make it easier for them? To add social media links to resumes or not: That is the question.

The purpose of a resume and cover letter is to sell yourself to a prospective employer. The purpose of your social media profile is to share with family and friends tidbits about your comings and goings as well as your own personal thoughts and opinions.

In some cases, these thoughts and opinions might have a heavy political or religious slant, which is not what an employer generally wants to be associated with. Given the high number of large corporations issuing public apologies after their social media employee used a corporate page to voice an opinion on a sensitive subject, we aren’t at all surprised.

So the general rule of thumb is that no, you should not be including your Twitter handle or the link to your Facebook page in your resume, but there are exceptions to this, and it really depends on both the employer and the industry that you are in.

I’ve interned with a variety of companies; so, I’ve had the opportunity to see some pretty creative resumes. Some included references to social media, others did not. I’ve even heard of people putting QR codes on their business cards that link to the candidates’ resumes, personal websites, blogs or, in some cases, LinkedIn profiles.

Many people set up professional accounts (including HR professionals, who often need a safe place to vent) on social media sites that allows them to connect with other industry professionals and it helps them to build their network on a professional level while shielding people from more personal opinions on media matters.

If you are applying for a job at a large employer in the Fortune1000, it might be wise to include your LinkedIn profile as well as your professional Twitter account on your resume. If you’ve submitted an application at a small accounting firm, we strongly suggest against it. Finance is just one of those sectors where social media hasn’t had a big impact, unless of course it is a media conglomerate.

So the final answer? If you absolutely must include social media, protect your personal account and start a professional account where you can share news articles that are pertinent to your industry and job tips with other job seekers.  Otherwise, keep it off of your resume.

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