Some Gen Zers Are Including Their Social Media on Resumes—Should You?

UPDATED: May 4, 2023
PUBLISHED: May 1, 2023
Some Gen Zers Are Including Their Social Media on Resumes—Should You?

Gone are the days when job applicants scrambled to update their privacy settings and delete compromising photos of party nights from their social accounts before a job interview. Now, some Generation Zers are using social media as a tool to differentiate themselves from other candidates, using platforms as an additional way to introduce themselves, their talents and their values to future employers. They are even using social media to create their resumes.

In fact, not having social media, or it being too hard to find, might hurt your chances of landing the position you’re vying for. 2022 research revealed that in a large-scale experiment, candidates having “information available on social media through hashtags and liked pages can have a crucial effect on a candidate’s chances of obtaining a good rating” from the employer. The report adds that “candidates with no social media profile receive even lower ratings than candidates with mental health problems”—those individuals received “lower ratings by an amount equivalent to the effect of having three years on-the-job experience.” However, “unappealing social media content [led] to the strongest reduction in ratings, equivalent to the value of nine years of on-the-job experience.” So social presence was essential, but it had to be appealing to be beneficial.

Social media’s importance in establishing yourself as an excellent employee begs the question: Should social media be displayed more prominently on resumes? Experts weigh in on the pros, cons, do’s and don’ts of this modern-age phenomenon.

‘Carefully curated’ narratives to show to future employers

Many employers don’t want to come up empty when they search social media for their future candidates, wondering why they hid their accounts behind privacy walls, according to Christy Pruitt-Haynes, global head of talent and performance practice at NeuroLeadership Institute. 

“Many talent acquisition professionals search for social media profiles of applicants. Sharing the links proactively lets them know that you are comfortable with them searching, and most importantly, gives the candidate a free and easy way to share carefully curated profiles that demonstrate their personality, skills and interests,” she says, with an emphasis on “carefully curated.” So, while you don’t have to change who you are, be mindful throughout your job hunt that future employers might be learning more about you through your public accounts, and understand the potential ramifications the posts on those accounts can have on your career.

It takes into account recruiters’ habits

Recruiters are human as well, and are naturally more apt to scroll social media like the rest of us, Pruitt-Haynes says. So why not capitalize on that tendency, as opposed to the 7.4 second average it takes for recruiters to scan resumes, according to Ladders’ 2018 “Eye-Tracking Study”?

“Most of us are used to spending hours on social media, going down a rabbit hole to learn more about a person. That natural curiosity creates the perfect opportunity for a candidate to share additional information with potential employers and craft the story that is most advantageous to them,” she says.

In addition, she points to the idea of candidates modeling company culture, with a nod to DDI statistics that “found that 40% of the CEOs on Harvard Business Review’s… 2019 Best Performing CEOs are active on LinkedIn, Twitter or both.” This is an increase from the 2016 list, where only 20% reported being active on these platforms. As leaders’ social media presence grows, it seems more relevant for job candidates to do the same on resumes.

But it’s OK to keep some accounts to yourself

Maybe Instagram is your own space to be yourself, and Facebook has too many personal and family pictures to share with your employer. That’s OK, says Kristy McCann Flynn, the co-founder and CEO of SkillCycle, who has over two decades of experience as an HR leader. 

“LinkedIn is expected. It’s essentially a digital supplement to a resume and helps companies and hiring managers get to know candidates as people and potential co-workers in a professional setting,” she says. “Everything else? No. A healthy work-life balance is essential to a positive work environment, so it’s good to establish boundaries between your personal and professional life.” 

McCann Flynn finds scrolling through candidates’ social media to be a “waste of time” compared to targeted questions on competencies and goals, with examples and storytelling.

It depends on your industry and the potential job opportunity

Not all fields lend themselves to dedicating a whole section of a resume to social media accounts, according to Katie Boudreau, operations manager at CallerSmart. “Apart from including your LinkedIn profile in your resume, which is a bare necessity these days, sharing any other links—e.g., your Facebook or Twitter profile—truly depends on the type of position and the industry you are applying for,” she says.

For example, David Matheny, PR and digital strategist at DJM Consulting LLC., who is in the public relations and social media industry, includes “professional facing” social media accounts on resumes and cover letters. He’s not sure if it’s helped or hurt his chances during his time as a job-seeker. 

“I have professional-facing social media accounts that I use for professional networking, development, applying, etc… and then I have separate personal accounts that I use a private email for and don’t publish anything that anyone could connect back to me personally,” he adds.

In quite the opposite field, Imani Maatuka, a commercial litigation and disputes associate at Sidley Austin LLP, also has used social media to prove competency in her field, too. “An attorney’s ability to use LinkedIn effectively is indicative of their ability to strengthen connections and stay engaged with clients. Social media has always been a powerful business development tool, and the pandemic has only driven more of our professional activities and communications online.”

Deciding whether to include social media on your resume

Boudreau recommends the following guidelines to determine if your industry aligns with this practice, or if you should hold off:

  • If you are reasonably active on Twitter and engaged with content related to your specific industry domain or the job you are applying for, it makes sense to share it.
  • Personal Facebook profile links or Twitter links that don’t align with your relevant professional content are a “strict no-no.”
  • Instagram or YouTube links that show your professional work, work samples, personal websites or blogs are helpful.

She warns not to overwhelm your resume—and therefore, recruiters—with too many links. “This can cause a negative impression, so limiting your resume to a maximum of 1-2 social media profiles and a maximum of 2-3 links is optimal.”

The social media presence that moved a candidate from the ‘no’ to ‘yes’ pile

Before you decide social media presence and its spot on your resume, consider Co-Founder and HR Specialist Jessica Munday of Custom Neon’s advice: She recalls a junior position candidate without much work history or experience, with a resume that “wasn’t very comprehensive.” But, when Munday checked out the candidate’s Facebook profile, which she’d included on her resume, she changed her mind. Munday moved her from the “no” to the “yes” pile based on what she found. 

“She had shared some great posts of things that she had done and projects she was involved in. I could see from her posts that she actually had some great experiences in her previous role, which hadn’t been so apparent on her resume. That was enough to invite her for an interview,” she says. “People aren’t always great at selling themselves, but with a little extra digging you may just find a diamond in the rough.”

Photo by GaudiLab/Shutterstock