Friday, September 12, 2008

Job Hunting? Dust off Your Online Persona

Who doesn't know yet that employers peruse social networking sites to find out more about potential new hires? Who doesn't know that a negative online person could stall a job search?

Apparently some jobseekers still don't.

I did a career session today for a lively group of athletes. A quick, show-of-hands indicated that close to 90% of the group had at least one of the three big social networking sites - YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. I asked the group, "What would your YouTube, MySpace or Facebook account tell an employer about you?"

The responses ranged from laughter to teasing and heckling each other. I suspect many of them, as friends, knew what was on each others' accounts. A few participants asked more seriously, "Why are they looking at your private, personal stuff?"

After we discussed briefly what "private" really means on the internet, I could see light bulbs going off and faces changing. I shared some of the latest survey details from Career Builder that showed that 22% of recruiters are using social networking sites to research candidates. This actually represents a 100% increase since 2006 when only 11% were using these sites.

Nine percent of recruiters said that even though they currently do not use social networking sites to screen job seekers, they planned to start soon.

I shared that jobseekers should also know that 34% of those recruiters who looked at these social networking sites, found information that caused them to discard a candidate from the pool of possible hires. Of course there is no guarantee that a recruiter is not using their own personal bias to make the decision. The fact is, these social networking sites could stand between a job seeker and a new career.

Here are some of the major concerns hiring managers noted as they checked up on candidates online:

41% - posted information about them drinking or using drugs
40% - posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information
29% - had poor communication skills
28% - bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee
27% - lied about qualifications
22% - used discriminatory remarks related to race, gender, religion, etc.
22% - screen name was unprofessional
21% - was linked to criminal behavior
19% - shared confidential information from previous employers

I think many of the young professionals in my session, left thinking about how to clean up what employers might consider their negative online personas.

Additional resources:
-Can you get a job by advertising yourself on Facebook?

-Using Social Networking to Kickstart Your Career


Seymour Jobs said...

Great topic! Thank you for sharing it. Without a doubt, no one wants to be caught off-guard in a less than flattering situation -- only to have it publicized to the world! So do yourself a favor and take a few simple measures to protect yourself. Check out a recent article that I wrote on the art of social networking damage control. Enjoy!

Delaware Job Hunters said...

Join us on May 6, 2009, from 8am-3pm at the Chase Center on the Riverfront for The Delaware Job Hunters Education and Networking Event. This important and timely event is being held to provide education to Delaware job seekers to improve their job search skills and gain a competitive edge in today’s job market. The event will also provide attendees the opportunity to meet with local companies to learn about job opportunities. This is a FREE event.

To register for the event call Joyce Dungee Proctor at 302-504-9922 or visit and click on seminars and choose the Delaware Job Hunters event to register.

Jamie said...

Really great topic! I actually have been going through some of my social networking sites to make sure that my content is boss approved.