Q: What does a predator who wants to steal your identity have in common with that hiring manager who just interviewed you?
A: They'll both search for information about you on social media.
It's scary, but true: more than ever, employers are checking applicants out online. In fact, according to CareerBuilder's 2016 social media recruitment survey, a whopping 60% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates (up from just 22% in 2008).
What's even scarier is that, according to this same survey, 1 in 5 employers (21%) admit they're looking for reasons not to hire candidates.
Does this mean you should just completely erase your digital footprint?
Absolutely not. Here's why:
- Social media can be a great career asset, when used correctly (think: online portfolio, LinkedIn profile, tweeting links to articles about trends in your industry).
- A well-managed online presence gives potential employers a glimpse of who you are outside the confines of your resume and cover letter, enhancing your professional image.
- Many employers also use social media positively, to look for information about your job qualifications, communication skills and potential fit with their company culture. If they find what they seek, they're more likely to hire you.
So when you're on the job hunt, be responsible – not invisible – on social media. Make sure you avoid these rookie mistakes:
- Over-sharing. Crude jokes, snarky political tweets, rants about former employers and "red Solo cup" moments shouldn't be part of your online presence (especially if you're looking for a job). Use the "grandma rule of thumb" to determine whether or not you should post content (i.e., if you wouldn't share it with your grandmother, don't share it online). Remember: the internet is forever.
- Not managing privacy settings. If you simply can't resist the urge to post content which could jeopardize your chances of getting a job, make sure employers can't find it online. With a simple search, you can get step-by-step instructions for managing your settings on each platform you use.
- Not searching yourself. Egosurfing isn't vain – it's a necessity. Search your name, using multiple variations and search engines (including Google, Bing!, Yahoo and Ask), to catch potential "data spills" – information, videos or photos that are outdated, inaccurate or that you just don't want in the public eye. Once you have a handle on what employers may find, get rid of what you don't want them to see.
Today's search-savvy recruiters will likely be checking you out online. Make sure you show them exactly – and only – what they should see when it comes to the professional you, by proactively managing your online reputation.
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