*As the semester comes to an end, December graduates will enter the workforce.

Armed with resume in hand, graduates must remember employers will also ask to look at their social media sites.

Social media has consistently evolved since the start of MySpace has in 2003, leading to Facebook launching in 2004, and Twitter in 2006.

It has not only changed the way people communicate with family and friends, but also changed the way individuals conduct business.

“It can ultimately affect whether or not the applicant gets an interview or even the a job offer,” said Cynthia Downing, Asst. Vice Chancellor for the Office of Career Services at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

According to a study performed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in February 2012 and CareerBuilder in March 2012, 37% of employers use social media to research job candidates while 11% opposed of using social media but plan to start.

Employers typically look at applicants’ Facebook and LinkedIn pages but they do consider looking at Twitter pages as well. Employers use social media sites to obtain more information on applicants. Students feel social media is not a main factor when applying for jobs, however it is something they need to clean up to not make a bad impression for a future employer.

“I think the main factor and the best way for employers to see how you view yourself is based on what you post and the pictures you have up,” said Patrice Ware, a senior music performance major at N.C. A&T from Seaside, CA. “I just try to do my best and not post inappropriate pictures or let someone tag me in pictures because that sends a bad message to future employers that you may think you just party all the time.”

65 percent of hiring managers look at social media to find out more about whether a candidate presents him or herself professionally, 51 percent said whether they are a good fit for the company culture, 45 percent said more qualifications of the candidate, 36 percent said whether the candidate is well-rounded and 12 percent said reasons to or not hire the candidate.

“I do not think it is an invasion of privacy for an employer to look at your social media networks due to the fact that they are doing it to evaluate ‘who’ you are,” said Richard Bradley, a senior architectural engineering major at N.C. A&T from Fayetteville, N.C.

Not all social media networks have Facebook capabilities such as posting many photos and videos. Instead, they take a professional approach by requesting information about work experience. LinkedIn, launched in 2003, gives applicants the access to network with other professionals.

“I stumbled across a LinkedIn and it is very helpful when applying for jobs and learning about their company,” said Jasmine Faulkner, senior speech language pathology major at N.C. A&T from Fayetteville, N.C.

“I would recommend that students develop an account on LinkedIn for professional networking or branding/marketing,” said Downing. “LinkedIn tends to focus more on professional interests of students and employees overall, such as career advice, questions and answers, employment opportunities, discussions on industry trends, and networking with individuals in their fields.”

Staying connected and having an engaging social life that employers like to see can help students optimize their social presence. Students can treat their profile as their resumes. Keep updated information with regarding education, experience, interests and skills that you want employers to see.

“Social media like anything else can be useful and very beneficial if it is used in the proper context,” said Downing. “However, if it is not, it can have grave consequences on the outcome of the job search process for an applicant.”

Erik Veal is a student journalist at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) in Greensboro, North Carolina.