The popularity of social media websites has resulted in an explosion of Internet users with an online profile. These days it is seldom that you come across someone who doesn’t have an account with at least one social media website, often more. Just type their name into your search bar and you will be able to find out all manner of information about them and with a little effort will be able to produce a reasonably accurate personality profile.
Social media sites have facilitated worldwide networks through which we can build and maintain relationships with people we have never met in countries we have never visited. They allow us to keep abreast of the latest developments around the world even before they are published by the news media. But, they also allow others a window into our private lives that we might prefer to keep private.
Employers and recruiters have been quick to recognise the potential of social media in assessing the background and true character of job candidates. They realise that people often post information about themselves that is less flattering than they might like or post their views on controversial issues. Putting this type of information together gives them a picture of the candidate that might otherwise remain unseen.
According to a recent survey, more than 50% of employers in Britain already research the backgrounds of job candidates through social networking websites, and this figure is rising. Also, some 40% of employers have rejected job candidates after examining their online profiles mainly because they discovered that candidates had:
- Lied about their qualifications.
- Made discriminatory remarks.
- Demonstrated poor communication skills.
- Posted comments about their drinking and drug-taking exploits.
Clearly, as a jobseeker, you need to ensure that your online profile is not going to lose you the chance of a job. To reduce the risk, the first action you must take is to find out what is out there yourself. Type your name into a number of search engines and see what comes up; widen your search by including variations, so that you are more sure of finding everything that a potential employer might come across. Then, tidy things up. Try to get rid of anything that might prove damaging and cut links to questionable sites or contacts.
Take what is left and make sure that it presents the person that you want employers to see. If necessary you can manipulate your profile, but make sure that you do not go too far. Keep it honest because – if you get caught out with false information, you can kiss your job prospects goodbye.
One of the simplest steps you can take to protect yourself is to adjust the privacy settings on your various social media accounts. Restrict access to those things that you don’t want strangers, like potential employers, to see and test your settings to make sure they keep out those you want to keep out. Better still; avoid posting anything sensitive in the first place.
Social media websites can be convenient and can be a lot of fun. They can also be potentially harmful for jobseekers (and in your private life, too). Enjoy using them but beware the pitfalls and treat them with caution; for one thing, your job could depend on it.
My name is Richard Deeley and I am a PR consultant for Randstad Business Support. Our research at the company has shown that job seekers looking for jobs in reception and or general office vacancies do not take advantage of social media to find employment. However before delving into such activity tidy up first and then make your move.