Nearly three-quarters of recruiters investigate the social media profiles of potential candidates as part of the recruiting process. A high percentage of employers reject applications after investigating candidates’ Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, however, an equally high percentage of employers also hire candidates based on their positive online reputation. As our society becomes ever more connected, it’s unsurprising that our online profiles are of great interest to our potential employers. We share significant amounts of personal information online, often without second thought. Nevertheless, if you’re undertaking a job search it is vital that you evaluate your use of social media and your digital footprint as a whole. Our career coaches often find that today’s job seekers are becoming increasingly aware of their online profiles, but many individuals underestimate of the importance of managing their digital presence.
Why do employers research candidates online?
This is often the first place that potential employers will look. You’ve already given them your location and full name through your CV, so it’s a breeze to locate your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Your Facebook profile is particularly revealing to employers. They aren’t going to study your ‘Likes’ and hire you on the basis of your music taste – they’re mainly looking for a reason not to hire you. For example, one study reports that 38% of job seekers were rejected or knocked back because the inflated qualifications on their CV didn’t match those on their Facebook profile. In addition, 10% of candidates saw their chances reduced thanks to an online boast about drink or drugs, 9% were overlooked for the role because their social media pages featured less-than-savoury photos, and 13% lost out because of racist comments on social media. Facebook users should check their privacy settings and ensure that content can only be accessed by their friends. A recent privacy change means that cover photos can also be made private.
On Twitter, you may wish to take a similar approach and keep your profile completely private to all but your approved followers. However, many of today’s roles involve employees using Twitter to make professional connections. You may wish to tidy up your past Tweets (and following list) and start increasing your engagement with companies and other professionals in your industry. Use relevant hashtags, Retweet useful content and post links to new posts on your blogs. Following the companies you apply to certainly wouldn’t hurt, either.
Your LinkedIn profile should be up-to-date and packed with information that’s relevant to employers. Expand your network, use a professional profile picture, and fill in as many contact details as possible.
Test your digital footprint by searching for yourself through a clean browser, with no cookies or search history. You may need to add your location or current company name into the search bar if your name is reasonably common. Take a look through the first couple of pages of search results. Click through and take a look at how you’re presented. There may be news articles, links to your blogs, links to social media profiles or your profile on your company’s website. If you come across old social media profiles (such as MySpace and Bebo) that you’ve long since abandoned, take steps to delete them. Articles on third party sites are trickier to manage, but if there’s content that you’d like removed a polite email to the webmaster or author may be sufficient.
A mismanaged digital presence may cost you an interview opportunity. As your online profile is more representative of who you are and how you behave than your CV or cover letter, employers can glean significant insights from it. You may lose your chance at an interview, or have aspects of your online profile questioned by employers during your interview, instead of focusing on what you can bring to the role. Tidying up your online profile is of utmost importance if you are searching for a job.
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