As a job seeker, you should care about your online presence.

(Not only should you care, you should be using it to your advantage!)

Employers ARE looking for information online

Could your online presence actually hold you back from a great career opportunity? As job seekers, we put significant effort into presenting our best self. We carefully craft resumes and supporting documentation and arrive at the interview in professional attire handpicked for the occasion. Following the interview, we are sure to follow up appropriately with the hiring manager. Surprisingly, while most people go to great lengths to make a good impression during their job search, many still neglect to consider their online image.

Search Computer Key Green Showing Internet Access And Online Research

It’s become standard practice for employers to look into a potential employee’s online presence. According to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment survey, the number of employers using social media to screen candidates has increased 500 percent over the last decade! 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, and 59 percent use search engines to research candidates. (That’s right. They’re googling you!)

According to the same report from CareerBuilder, 49% of hiring managers who used social media and search engines as a screening process for candidates said they indeed found information that caused them not to hire a candidate.

What employers don’t want to find:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos or information – 46%
  • Information about a candidate drinking or using drugs – 43%
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc. – 33%
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous employer or fellow employee – 31%
  • Poor communication skills – 29%

Oddly enough, most hiring managers clarified that they were not particularly looking for the negatives, but simply researching the candidate to learn more about them or to find information that supported their qualifications for the job.

A Positive Online Presence is a Good Thing

I often talk with people who believe it’s best to keep their privacy settings completely nailed down. This might not be the best approach. 41 percent of employers say they are less likely to interview candidates that they can’t find online!

Certainly a hiring manager’s perception of your online presence is subjective, but the survey showed that of employers who screen candidates via social networks, about one-third of them found information that caused them to hire a candidate, (Yes, you read that right. It resulted in them HIRING A CANDIDATE!)  Those findings include:

  • Candidate’s background info support job qualifications – 44 %
  • Candidate’s site conveyed a professional image – 44%
  • Candidate’s personality came across as a good fit with company culture – 43%
  • Candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests – 40%
  • Candidate had great communication skills – 36%

Keep Your Presence Clean and Use Online Tools to Your Benefit

While certain social media channels are intended to be more personal than professional, keep in mind that someone somewhere may evaluate you based on what they find on a public profile or blog post. Make sure whatever they are finding works in your favor! Use your profiles to spotlight your awesomeness. Highlight the values that make you a great catch as an employee and co-worker.

If you are actively searching for a job, do a little of your own online research. Research hiring managers and other company employees to get a better sense of what goes on inside the organization and whether or not the employees are strong advocates for the company.

If you haven’t already, make a conscious effort to craft a vision for your own personal brand. What values and elements go into that brand? If you’ve given some thought to your long-term intentions and objectives, you’re probably already supporting your brand online!

In my next post, I’ll explain some specific ways to go about cleaning up your online presence.

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Melissa Fritchey, Director of Marketing & Communications

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