When employers are looking for qualified candidates for an open position, their goal is to find out as much as they can about you before you’re hired. In the age of social networking, it’s easier than ever to find out everything about you from your religion to what you do on the weekend. In fact, according to a December 2009 study by Microsoft Corp, 79% of hiring managers and recruiters review online information about applicants before hiring, and 70% said that they’ve rejected candidates based on what they found. Don’t give your employer any excuse to put your resume in the trash can. Avoid these social networking mistakes.
1. Sharing too much about your job search
You may want to keep friends and family updated, but employers will be able to see it too. Knowing how you felt about the interview or your opinion of them (especially if it’s not flattering) can affect whether or not you get hired. Or they may simply be concerned that you’ll share too much once you are an employee. Many companies value their privacy and prefer to hire employees that do the same. And of course, if you’re currently working, your employer won’t be pleased to find out you’re looking elsewhere, and you don’t want to lose your current job before you find a new one.
2. Not sharing enough about your job search
If people don’t know you are looking for a job, they can’t help you find one. But how do you do that without running into the problems mentioned above? Remain upbeat and don’t offer details about specific opportunities or interviews. But do share details about the type of positions you are looking for, so that others can keep an eye out. If you’re currently employed, you can’t get the word out publicly, but you can make direct communications to people that you think may be able to help you.
3. Badmouthing past, current, or future employers
We all get frustrated on the job now and then, but make sure that your outlet for that frustration isn’t your social networks. If you’re writing negative things about your current company, a prospective employer will assume you’ll do the same to them. Got a new job? You want to leave on good terms, so you have a solid reference the next time you’re looking for a job. Make sure you let the boss know before you let the blogosphere know, and if you do make a public announcement, be sure you speak fondly of your old job.
4. Showing too much partying
Having pictures of drinking, kissing, or wearing skintight clothing can affect how a prospective employer views you. The same goes for using graphic language. You may rarely use four-letter words in person and not be a frequent partier, but the company won’t know that. They’ll draw their own conclusions, and it may make them concerned about your professionalism. If you like to share photos of events you attend, be sure to keep your Facebook settings to “Friends Only,” so they don’t affect your job prospects. But be aware that it’s often still possible for employers to see the photos from other people’s profiles. Privacy settings aren’t foolproof.
5. Posting different resumes
If you’re applying to different types of positions or different industries, you may have several resumes that highlight certain parts of your experience and downplay others. That’s perfectly fine, but be sure that anything an employer finds about you on the internet matches up with what’s on those resumes. And of course, don’t lie on your resume! It is all too easy for an employer to verify any facts through a quick internet search.
6. Not completing your professional profiles
Instead of signing up for several sites, focus on one or two. According to LinkedIn, you are 40 times more likely to be found if you have a completed profile, so take the time to make the most of the sites you do belong to before signing up for new ones.
7. Not being proactive
Do yourself a favor: Google your name and see what comes up. This is what a prospective employer will see. Is this the message you want to send? If not, consider ways that you can polish your online presence by asking websites to remove content about you, cleaning up your social networking profiles, signing up for professional sites such as LinkedIn, and starting a website or blog to let your skills shine.