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Job Seekers: It’s Time to REALLY Clean Up Your Social Media

Three out of every five Americans who use social media have posted or texted something they regret. One in six regret a post at least once a week. If you’re younger than 30, you were sternly warned by teachers, professors, advisors and your parents to watch what you post on social media. Chances are, a least on an occasion or two, you did not heed that advice. The rest of us have heard the warnings too, but do we listen?

If you’re a job seeker, you should.

According to CareerBuilder, 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 52 percent last year and 11 percent in 2006. That’s a 500 percent increase over the past decade. Many temporary staffing firms also use social networking sites to vet their temporary and temp-to-hire employees.

“Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a resume or cover letter,” says CareerBuilder Chief Human Resource Officer Rosemary Haefner. “And with more and more people using social media, it’s not unusual to see the usage for recruitment to grow as well.”

The study concludes hiring managers aren’t just being nosey.

  • 60 percent are looking for information that supports qualifications for the job.
  • 53 percent want to see if the candidate has a professional online persona.
  • 30 percent want to see what other people are posting about the job candidate.
  • 21 percent admit they’re looking for reasons not to hire the job candidate.

So what’s a job seeker to do?

  1. Don’t be scared into making your entire social life private. The same study cited above found that more than two in five employers are less likely to interview job candidates if they are unable to find information about that person online. LinkedIn is an obvious place to focus your efforts when it comes to creating a professional, polished online persona. Follow these 31 LinkedIn profile tips to make the best use of your summary, profile picture, achievements, multimedia and other areas of your LinkedIn profile.
  2. Scrutinize your photos. Even if your Facebook or Instagram account is private, your profile picture may not be (depending on your settings) and friends and followers may choose to copy and share or tag you in photos without your permission. Out of the employers who did not hire a candidate based on what was found online, nearly half admitted it was due to provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information. You know what they say: A picture is worth a thousand words.
  3. Think before you friend. It’s easy to assume if you get a friend or follow request from a prospective employer or hiring manager on any social account, you should always accept it. But that’s not the case. Assume anything you post publicly is fair game for the hiring manager to request or review. When it comes to personal, private accounts, however—which is often the case on social networks like Facebook—you can explain the account is personal and then redirect the potential employer to a more appropriate professional account like LinkedIn.
  4. Think before you post. Career Pivot’s Marc Miller, an Austin-based career design specialist, recently blogged about the “reputation economy” in which anyone, anywhere can research you—and your reputation—at any time. “Anything that can be recorded in digital format will never go away. Even if you delete a picture from Facebook or Instagram, it is still stored somewhere…forever,” he warns. “The data being collected today may not have a current use, but that does not mean it will be that way forever. In the reputation economy, your digital footprint is being recorded and will never disappear.”
  5. And, finally, simply don’t post things you’ll regret. Take a look at Money Magazine’s top 10 social media blunders, including drinking in a photo or complaining about work or a boss. Put yourself in a hiring manager’s shoes. Would the photo turn you off? Is what you’re saying hurtful or controversial? Could it be misinterpreted? If yes, consider leaving it off the web.

Finding a balance between sharing enough and sharing too much when it comes to social networks could make or break your job search. Have you experienced not getting an interview or a job because of your social media presence? Do you still have questions about maintaining your professional persona online? Ask us!


Image Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo