Before starting your job search, Google yourself
Before you apply for a job, check out your settings on personal social media accounts. (Shutterstock)
When you decide to find a new job, there is much more to be done than dusting off your old resume, adding your latest job on top and sending it along to potential employers. Entering the job market could require a total makeover of your brand or at least taking a good look at what else employers can stumble on when they are checking your experience.
Is it acceptable for employers to go through your social media accounts and read your comments on news stories? There are arguments and counter-arguments for this approach, but one truth remains, many employers do. One survey in the US found nearly 60 per cent of employers check out social media accounts — whatever public on them — to determine if a candidate is a good fit.
And while you won’t — and should not — change your lifestyle, personal beliefs or views to fit an employer’s corporate culture, there are many steps that you can take to ensure that your online presence isn’t hurting your job-hunting efforts.
Start with professional
If you have professional or company accounts on Facebook or LinkedIn, make sure that the information there matches your resume. Fudging up your resume with inflated periods of employment or skills are not listed or vouched for on your professional accounts could trigger suspicions about your sincerity.
In addition, make sure that your professional accounts are actually professional. For example, don’t use your pet photo for a LinkedIn account — even if you and your friends think he is the cutest puppy. Keep a clean, professional image by using a consistent way of listing your past job experiences, and don’t overlook basic spelling and grammar mistakes.
In addition, utilise the features offered by most professional networking sites to help you build your profile. For example, if you’re on LinkedIn, get recommendations and endorsements, and complete your profile in full. The site is going to show you how complete your profile is and prompt you to add information. If you’re a service provider, get reviews, ratings, etc.
Move to personal
Check out your settings on personal social media accounts. If everything you post on Facebook — including your late-night rants about your current supervisor or less-than- appropriate photos — is visible to the public, you might want to change that. Your close friends are probably the only ones who might be interested in showing interest and providing support anyway.
If you’re in the job market, it may also be wise to watch for what you post and what you use for a profile photo — that could be accessible to the public. Again, it is a matter of discretion. While you should not try to lead or mislead anyone to think of you in any particular way, you also should not be having something that hurts you. For example, in that survey of US employers, 83 per cent said they were turned off by references to illegal drugs, 65 per cent said they were turned off by the use of profanity, and 61 per cent cited bad grammar and spelling.
Look yourself up
Google seems to have a great memory. So look yourself up to see what employers would see if they do look you up. Try to clean up anything that not pleasant, and respond to any complaints or grievances made by clients, coworkers, etc.
Although some reviews or ratings of service providers may not be easy to delete or change, they could be balanced out by seeking positive feedback from happy clients. If you have a webpage or a blog, you may even think of starting a section of testimonials that build up a more positive image of your services.
If your exercise uncovers any major problems such as legal issue that pops up on top of the results or fraud allegation that is associated with your name and ranks high, you will need to go as far as explaining this in your in-person interviews. The point is: Don’t assume that employers only know what you tell them. With today’s ease of accessing information and networking, hiring managers can get more information about a candidate than they can imagine.
By Rania Oteify