HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN SABOTAGE YOUR JOB SEARCH (IT’S NOT WHAT YOU’RE THINKING)


How'd you know I was in Paris last month...?

How’d you know I was in Paris last month…?

Is audit not the world’s most boring sounding word ever? Sorry to my friends who work in Audit but it’s true… Well, one thing you’ve GOT to do is a social media audit. We all know that whether they should or shouldn’t, recruiters and hiring managers are increasingly checking out candidates’ online lives – and I’ve seen some pretty funny things happen thanks to simple internet searches.

 

So to get started, yep, you guessed it. Time to start googling yourself. If your name is Sarah Johnson or something totally common like that, you get to skip this step. Seriously, though, make sure you can’t be found by adding a word or two like the town you live in or the university you went to.

 

Lots of you will have your Facebook profiles rank pretty high, so make sure the security settings only allow your friends access. Also make sure all of your profile or cover photos (past and present) look okay, since employers will be able to see these. Another site that Google’s likely to rank high is LinkedIn, and if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, now’s the time to set one up. Choose a professional/work-appropriate photo and upload key facts from your resume, adding people you truly know as contacts – not random strangers. I’ve never understood why people I don’t know add me – without a tailored message, or any reason beyond having me as a ‘contact’.

 

Some of you may have totally random, and slightly unfortunate, sites appearing when a search is done on your name. If you were the President of some obscure high school club, for example, you might be able to get this kind of thing taken down. You can also build up your profile through other sites that should rank higher so that at least your top 10 search findings are relatively normal. Things like Vimeo, Quora, etc will tend to pop up near the top, even if you don’t use them much. Most important is that you know what will come up. There’s nothing quite like last year’s Hallowe’en photos or a video from your sorority’s road trip that says ‘I’m professional. Hire me’. ;)

 

Now the interesting part is the searching YOU do on your interviewer. Whenever you’ve been sent the interviewer’s details (whether they’re a line manager or from HR), see what you can find online. Not sure who is going to interview you? Just ask who you should expect to meet. Don’t forget that they will be able to tell if you look at their LinkedIn profile… You may want them to be able to see this (shows you are preparing/doing your research), but it’ll depend on the situation. So what can you find? Maybe the recruiter interviewing you for a Marketing job used to work in the field herself and specialized in online communications, or the line manager you’re meeting previously lived in Japan, focusing on US-Japanese business. You don’t want to tell them you know this, but you do want to prepare accordingly.

 

At one interview that I did with a colleague of mine, the candidate made it very clear she did her research – but not in a way that helped her. She mentioned how she knew my co-worker was Australian, so he probably was good about work-life balance, BBQing on the weekend and all (!). She also referenced a presentation he gave a few months back that he didn’t even know was posted online. Unfortunately for her, she came off more as a creepy, stereotyping job stalker than a prepared job seeker. 

 

Has social media sabotaged your job search? Or are you anonymous online and wished you could stand out? Share your story below in the comments.

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Comments & Responses

3 Responses so far.

  1. Sophia says:

    Hi Kari! Great article :) But isn’t it illegal for companies to search and make hiring decisions based on this stuff? Thanks! Sophia

  2. Kari says:

    Thanks Sophia! No, it’s not necessarily illegal. Even when they shouldn’t look at Facebook, etc, we know companies, and especially recruiters, use this in filtering people out more times than not. So in any case, you don’t want to get missed out just because you posted those old spring break photos ;)

  3. Gwen says:

    Good recruiters spend all day looking for and researching candidates online. It is amazing what pops up.

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