Planning Your Career? Social Media is the New Resume

Career Impact Series #1

Below is an interview with Sarah Stockwell, Tufts Gordon Institute Lecturer, Career Impact Series. This is the first in a series of articles designed to help provide insight into how to strategically plan your career.

We sat down with Sarah Stockwell, M.S. in Innovation & Management lecturer of the Career Impact Series, to learn how to develop your online presence. With 20 years of training and development experience in both the private and educational sectors, Sarah has a deep understanding of how students can best prepare for their job search. Read excerpts from our conversation with Sarah about how your social media profile makes a big impact on your job search.

Let’s start with the basics. Why is it important to have an online presence?

Social media is the new resume. In this day and age, your online profile almost always delivers your first impression to a potential employer. When you apply for a job, recruiters and HR executives will almost always search for you online. By developing your online presence, you will be able to build your personal brand, take control of how you are seen online, demonstrate your usage of current technology as well as create and stay connected to your network.

How do you go about starting to develop your own personal online brand?

With so many online touch points to choose from, it is important to pick your battles, decide which sites are most important to you, and prioritize. That said, start with LinkedIn and use it smartly. LinkedIn is the “go to source” for professionals and hiring managers, so proofread and make sure there are no typos! According to, 79% of recruiters hire through LinkedIn and 90% search for, contact, and screen candidates based on LinkedIn profiles.

Set up a strong profile that showcases your story and includes your background, job history, organizations and volunteer work.  Post a professional photo (no, a picture of you and your kitten on the sofa does not count, nor does one of you at the beach with your partner’s arm cropped out of the picture). Create a branded headline (one to three lines) and a professional summary with searchable keywords (this is a short version of what you do and why, and makes people want to know more). Then focus on:

–  Current and past professional positions, skills and expertise, and education amd interests

–  Expand on this by asking for references. These are far more valuable than endorsements and give prospective employers a real sense of what you have done and how you work with others.

– Tell a comprehensive story and make sure that your profile accurately reflects your resume.

What are the most important sites?

Besides LinkedIn, consider Twitter and Facebook. Twitter provides a glimpse into who you are. It allows you to engage with brands and people with whom you want to be associated. By tweeting, re-sharing and replying to tweets, you can get noticed and even engage with high-level execs. That said, it is important to consider what you say and how you say it.

Besides Twitter, Facebook is also important. Hiring managers use it regularly to see how you present yourself online in a social context. Be careful about what you post and realize that your Facebook profile reflects who you are. Get to know your privacy settings and be aware that 83% of job seekers are using Facebook (

What’s next?

Developing an online presence is a process that is constantly evolving. In order to be successful, it is important that you regularly dedicate time to update your profiles and engage with your contacts. After setting up the basics, set aside an hour or two every week to focus on your online presence, review other people’s profiles and reflect on how you can strategically communicate with prospective employers.

Interested in learning more? A few resources Sarah recommends checking out include: