Remember that “classic” picture of you from last year’s St. Patrick’s Day that your best friend posted on FaceBook? (I don’t know from experience, I’m just sayin’.) If you’re a job seeker, chances are a hiring manager will see it. Is that really the first impression you want to make?
As the social networking phenomenon continues to spread, more employers are utilizing these sites to screen potential employees. CareerBuilder’s latest survey found that 45% of employers reported they use social networking sites to research job candidates; that’s a big jump from 22% last year. Another 11% plan to start using social networking sites for screening.
And they are searching everywhere. Of those who conduct online searches/background checks of job candidates, 29% use Facebook, but another 26% use LinkedIn and 21% use MySpace. One-in-ten (11%) search blogs while 7% follow candidates on Twitter.
If you are posting pictures on your online profile or comments on blogs, think twice before you divulge something that might be deemed controversial. 35% of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate including provocative or inappropriate photographs or information, bad-mouthing a previous employer and lying about qualifications.
That’s not to say that everything employers find is bad and you should race to remove any online mention of you entirely. Job seekers should leverage social media when advertising their skills and experience because 18% of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them to hire the candidate.
Here’s what you do: Run a comprehensive search for yourself (while you’re not logged in to any of the sites) and see what information appears. If you find something a hiring manager shouldn’t see, update your privacy settings, remove the content or ask the site’s owner to remove the content. If there’s something you don’t find that you do want employers to see, like a press release about a product you launched or an article you were quoted in, find the url and include it on your resume. Make it easier for a hiring manager to find the good stuff!