Did you know that nearly 40% of employers use social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn in their hiring process? That’s according to a nationwide CareerBuilder study that polled more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals.

Employers use social sites to screen job seekers and to get a better idea of a candidate’s character and personality. They want to know if you would be a good cultural fit and if you know how to conduct yourself professionally online. So, what do potential employers see when they search YOU?

Here are a few best practices to follow:

  • Tactful profile pictures and cover photos (you don’t need a professional headshot, but think about what you are portraying)
  • Proof-read your profiles… Are they free of spelling and grammar errors?
  • Make sure your online job history and accomplishments align with your resume
  • Make your profiles private… Don’t forget about Instagram too!

According to the study, more than 40% of the employers surveyed suggested that they did not hire a candidate because of the content they found online. Those reasons included:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photos
  • Poor communications skills
  • Bad mouthing previous employers
  • Discriminatory comments
  • Lies about qualifications

The easiest way to protect your public image is to make your profiles private, but more and more employers are asking candidates for their login information. While you may not be sharing compromising content in the first place, it is still important to be aware of how others perceive you and make sure your social media presence is an asset rather than a hindrance. You don’t want to give an employer a reason NOT to hire you. You want the best shot, right?

* Please note there is certain information off limits to employers. As a job seeker, privacy laws protect you. In some states it is illegal for an employer to request login information.

Amy Geisert is an MBA candidate and Graduate Assistant at the Suitts Graduate & Alumni Career Center.