Contact 2: Could your social media presence prevent you from getting a job?

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - When Gregg Ratliff reflects, he retreats to a special room in his home. Changes have brought challenges to his life, some of them painful.

In 2009, Gregg's wife was diagnosed with ALS. He quit his job to care for her full-time. In 2016, she died nine days short of their 44th anniversary.

A year later, the former electrical contractor and business owner turned vice president of a global company needs a job.

“Because of the savings being spent due to the illness, I need to get back into the workforce for a few years and I feel like I’ve got something to contribute,” Ratliff said.

But the companies he’s courted aren’t calling back.

“I’ve dealt with organizations on a very high level and now to not even be able to get a phone call or an interview is very frustrating for sure,” he said.

Job hunting has changed a lot since Gregg last looked for work. These days, first impressions on Facebook often trump face-to-face interactions.

“I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh yeah, I just wasn’t called back,’ but a lot of times it has to do with their online presence or something that came up,” said Elizabeth Ledbetter, branch manager for staffing agency The Creative Group, a division of Robert Half.

Ledbetter said companies now scour job candidates’ social media profiles for any red flags.

“You could have a wonderful interview, but you could be kind of loose cannon outside of the office.” She said.

Ledbetter recommends un-tagging yourself from those college party pics and deleting that political rant. Gregg Ratliff added another interesting element to the conversation.

“The only challenge I have is that I sometimes have to wonder if things like ageism creeps in,” Ratliff said. “They take a look, see my white hair, and all the sudden they make a decision that maybe this guy is too old for us to consider hiring.”

A discouraging declaration he refuses to accept.

“I believe everything will come together, it’s that p-word patience that’s so difficult,” Ratliff said.

Ledbetter recommends Googling yourself and setting up Google alerts for your name so you can monitor what's posted about you online. While your digital footprint can hurt your job hunt, she said it can also help you. Companies are looking to expand their online presence, so if you can highlight your digital skill set, it can put you ahead of the pack of other applicants.