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Do employers ‘Like’ your online presence?

social network structureBy Tasnim Tudor – Senior HR Manager, CareerBuilder EMEA

Social media has grown from networking sites for teenagers into an entire industry that fuels businesses and shares news. It’s also become a tool in the hiring process, and can affect your career positively or negatively. A new survey from found that 48 per cent of employers currently use social networking sites to research job candidates. Additionally, 12 per cent of employers who don’t currently research candidates on social media plan to start.

While some employers are finding cause to hire a candidate based on their social media presence, others are finding dirt that can make them turn to other applicants. Fifty-five per cent of employers who research job candidates on social media said they’ve found content that caused them to not hire the candidate.

Employers find the good and the bad

Being visible to employers is usually a good thing, but if your online presence isn’t stellar, it may end up sabotaging your chances. The most common reasons hiring managers indicated rejecting a candidate included:

  • Candidate posted information about their drinking or drug habits – 45 per cent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employees – 39 per cent
  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 38 per cent
  • Candidate lied about their qualifications – 37 per cent
  • Candidate had poor communications skills – 35 per cent
  • Candidate was linked to criminal behaviour – 25 per cent
  • Candidate posted discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc. – 20 per cent

However, one third (34 per cent) of employers who research candidates on social networking sites say they’ve found content that made them more likely to hire a candidate. Some of the most common reasons employers hired a candidate based on their social networking presence included:

  • Job candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job – 49 per cent
  • Job candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 44 per cent
  • Job candidate had great communication skills – 44 per cent
  • Job candidate’s online site conveyed a professional image – 40 per cent
  • Job candidate’s personality was clearly a good fit within the company culture – 37 per cent

Control your online identity

No corner of the Internet may be left unturned as employers begin to research job candidates more thoroughly. Half (50 per cent) of employers use search engines such as Google to research potential job candidates, with 21 per cent saying they do so frequently or always.

I recommend the following Do’s and Don’ts to keep a positive image online:

  • DO clean up digital dirt before you begin your job search. Remove any photos, content and links that can work against you in an employer’s eyes.
  • DO consider creating your own professional group on social media sites to establish relationships with thought leaders, recruiters and potential referrals.
  • DO keep gripes offline. Keep the content focused on the positive, whether that relates to professional or personal information. Makes sure to highlight specific accomplishments inside and outside of work.
  • DON’T forget others can see your friends, so be selective about who you accept as friends. Monitor comments made by others. Consider using the “block comments” feature or setting your profile to “private” so only designated friends can view it.
  • DON’T mention your job search if you’re still employed.

The Internet can be a powerful aid in your job search and connect you with the right employer or allow you to showcase yourself as the right candidate. Posting to social media sites responsibly and managing your online presence is an important step that can have real impact throughout your career.

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