Employers are digging up your digital dirt

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drunkRemember 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.

And beware if you work in IT or Professional Business Services – hiring managers in those industries were more likely to screen job candidates via social networking sites or online search engines.

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!

29 Comments
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  2. Hello,

    Thank you for the information.I’m not on facebook except to read my children’s updates. I am hoping to get the opportunity to change fields, though. What I’m looking for is a cliftnote for jargon in my new field which is government work. If I’m lucky I may be landing a job in public health! My opportunities in public school teaching have deminished. I am very excited about this new career, and I think I will be a good fit in the position. What advice do you have for me? Thank you!

  3. It’s truly striking how most some employers use non-professional means to weed out candidates. I thought I’d heard it all. A social networking site? That makes about as much sense as using credit scores- given that 2/3ds of accounts contain false or incorrect information. My favorite is “googling” a candidate. If you take my name, you will find several writers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, pornstars, porn directors, and a host of other items. Then, to top it off, much of what is on the internet is rumor or non-factual. Now we have social networking, which can be set up by anyone and may not even be the person in question. Wow. What a great method for weeding candidates. Way to go, managers.

    Absolutely pathetic.

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