(NNPA)—Most professional job searches these days are at least started on the Internet. Yes, the big job boards are worth trolling, but if you’re a serious job hunter, you need more information than just a job posting—you need to dig deeper to research and network before you blindly shoot off a resume. And that’s where online networking sites can step up your game.

Online networking sites are not only for keeping up with your family and friends with whom you may have lost contact with over time. They also make it easier for recruiters to learn about you, and for you to learn about their companies—both essential ingredients to landing a job.

For workers over 50, an online presence is also a way to show potential employers that you’re not intimidated by technology— something they’re wary of when considering an older worker for a job today. “My mom finally understands how to operate a computer,” said Tiffany Green, 21, from Atlanta. “She has a job but if she didn’t, this would be the easiest way for her to find one.”

In a study done by Repplers, a social media monitoring service, 300 professionals involved in the hiring process of their companies were surveyed. Of the 300 surveyed, 91 percent said they use social media sites to screen prospective employees. During the hiring process, 53 percent said they used Twitter to screen candidates, Facebook led at 76 percent, followed by LinkedIn at 48 percent. Of the 300, 69 percent rejected a candidate because of what they saw on their social media sites, from inappropriate pictures and comments to poor communication skills. Upon hiring, companies are now asking for your social media site usernames and Twitter handles to see if you will be a good fit for the company.

Nearly two in five companies use social networking sites to research job candidates, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder. Of the employers who do not research candidates on social media, 15 percent said their company prohibits the practice. Eleven percent report they do not currently use social media to screen, but plan to start. “I don’t remember the last time I used a paper résumé,” said Jeffrey Gordan, 25, from Miami. “Everything is completed electronically.”

In a 2009 study of employers who conduct online background checks, 45 percent said they used social media to screen job candidates. “As a journalism student, I find that most of our applications for prospective jobs ask for your Twitter handle or Facebook and LinkedIn name,” said Anthony Campbell, 18, from Tallahassee. “And on LinkedIn, you are able to see which of your applications were viewed by the company you applied for.”

The survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive from Feb. 9 to March 2, 2012, included more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.



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