For many, the start of a new year means the start of a new job search using the internet to research employers. For up coming college graduates in particular, it is opportunity to get a head start in getting their careers of the ground using online resources. At the same time, many employers are also researching potential job candidates through Google, Myspace.com and Facebook.com and what they are finding could be used as reasons not to hire you.
A recent poll conducted for Careerbuilder.com showed that 26 percent of hiring managers admitted to using the Internet to perform background checks on job candidates. A further 12 percent admitted to using social networking sites such as MySpace.com and Facebook.com as a screening tool.
For many college students, social networking sites such as Facebook.com and Myspace.com are a core part of their cyber profile used for networking. However, many students are surprised to learn that their candid and sometimes sexually explicit photos and the details of their drinking and dating lives in their profiles can negatively affect their job search. Those disparaging comments, risqué photos, inappropriate language and lewd jokes posted on their profiles could be viewed as a reflection of their character by a potential employer.
According to an HR director, people should carefully consider their potential audience and the impression they may have based on your pictures, personal opinions, and ideas posted online. “We were in the process of extending an offer to a great candidate, until his myspace.com page was brought to our attention. He had a great resume, went to an elite school and had impeccable references. However, our review of his myspace profile highlighted his recreational drug use. This made us immediately reconsider hiring him,” says an HR Director for a financial services company in Toronto, Ontario. “Our company is very conscious of client relations and our public image and we could not risks this candidate’s background being taken as a reflection of organization. “
A recent poll of Resume Solutions student clients showed that over 60% of the respondents were unaware that their profiles on social networking websites could be viewed by potential employers. This is surprising, despite the increased media attention focused on employers reviewing Myspace and Facebook prior to making hiring decisions.
Prior to staring a new job search, it is recommended that job seekers perform a Google search on their names to find out what a potential employer may read or see about them online. If any questionable content is discovered, that is content you would not feel comfortable if an employer or your parents view, then request that the site’s webmaster remove it immediately. Questionable content may include nude photos, slanderous comments or those drunken pictures from your Cancun vacation. Keep in mind you may encounter resistance in getting the content removed, however, you can let them know that they may be affecting your future job prospects and you may have no choice but to seek legal recourse. For that information, absolutely you cannot have removed due to lack of control, construct a plausible answer to counter or explain away to a hiring manager.
We are not advocating that social networking sites are to be used solely for job searching or building a web portfolio of your resume and job skills, but it makes sense to remove as much of the negative content about yourself as is possible. You should be smart and discreet in their online communications and consider creating private profiles for just your family members and friends.
There are many ways to create a “positive cyber profile” that does not affect your career prospects. College students can create personal web pages and profiles at social networking sites that include their resumes, hobbies and interests, details on leadership activities or academic successes. You can also include photos of yourself but ensure they do not include explicit materials.
Job seekers can use their online profiles to demonstrated their excellent communication skills, establish a professional image of themselves prior to an in-person meeting, demonstrate their creativity and diverse interest – things that can set them apart from other job seekers.
As more and more users flock to social networking sites, the affect the sites have on the job search and candidate screening may include employers going even deeper into candidate’s personal and professional lives. It is therefore advisable to put nothing online that have the potential to hurt your future job prospects and include anything that would help you in landing a new job. Use common sense when creating an online profile. Remember that employers who do online searches are looking for reasons not to hire you, by searching for any detail that could embarrass or put their company at risk.
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