Just when you think you’ve aced the interview and have reference contacts lined up with many good things to say about you, take a deeper look. Many employers today are resorting to social media sites to screen candidates. In fact, recent studies indicate that 85% of employers and 100% of recruiters will look you up on LinkedIn before calling you. So if you are a user of any one of the social networking sites that have proliferated in recent years, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, there’s more than a likely chance potential employers have scoped you out.
You may conduct yourself well during an interview, but how do you appear online? Even simple things like the profile photo you have up on your Facebook page can leave employers with different impressions. Do you portray an unprofessional image in any way? You need to be very cautious about what the Internet is showing and saying about you.
How Employers Are Screening You
Internet screening may occur before or after an interview. If your account setting on social networking sites is open to the public, think twice about what you write and post. For instance, if you tend to keep your network of contacts informed about the status of your job hunt and interviews, you may have just shared the update with the potential employer screening you.
Think of the impression the employer will form if they read your status post saying, “Job interview tomorrow – not really the type of work I want to do, but I know it will pay well,” or “Just completed an interview – hated the HR contact, but loved the team.” These simple updates meant for your personal circle of friends may have just ruined your chances of any opportunity at the employer.
There have also been cases of employees having been fired from the job or reprimanded because of inappropriate postings to a social networking site that their boss just so happened to come across.
Here’s some insight to how employers are using the Internet to screen you – and what you should review to ensure your Internet presence shows your best front to potential employers.
- Google: If you haven’t searched your own name on the Internet, Google it and see what shows up. You are likely to appear with your public LinkedIn profile page (if you have one), blogs you may have authored, photos and other information. Try to eliminate or change privacy settings to certain websites so that you do not present any information that may be damaging to you.
- Facebook: This social networking site has over 600 million users. If you are one of them, review what your profile page presents and restrict public access to your profile, postings, photos and friends list, if necessary. You can make changes in Account Settings to control who may view your account. If you have a relevant and professional blog or website to share with employers, you may consider adding it to your Information page and making that particular section open to the public.
- LinkedIn: This is one of the more professionally-oriented social networking sites. Employers are particularly interested in viewing recommendations from your colleagues and managers. Any information offered on professional groups you are associated with and questions answered or asked can help an employer learn more about your character and knowledge.
- Twitter: What issues are you tweeting about? Have you established a presence as an expert in any particular area? How many people are following you?
It’s important to keep information appropriate and professional. Even with the 140-character limit per tweet, you can face a lot of damage with an employer when you write something inappropriate. By default, all accounts on Twitter are set for public view. Note that you can change your account settings to “protected” so anyone who wishes to view your profile or follow you needs to be approved by you first.
As more employers rely on the Internet to obtain a more accurate picture and understanding of candidates, it is important you err on the conservative side of what you write, post, and share on the Internet. In many instances, what you post on the Internet will remain there indefinitely and is accessible to everyone, so make sure it is consistent with your overall message.
Don Goodman, president of About Jobs is a nationally recognized career expert. Get a FREE Resume Evaluation, read his blog at GotTheJob.com/blog/ or contact him at 800-909-0109 or by e-mail at [email protected].