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How your online profile can affect your job search

Published: Friday 5th June 2015

You might have a great CV, but what employers want to know is what you’re like in real life, and one way they’ll try to do that is through online profiling. According to a recent survey, 52% of employers will Google your name online in an attempt to find out more about you. Another 10% of employers are planning to start using social media screening in their recruiting procedures. Here’s how your online profile and social media can affect your job search

What can employers find out about you from your online profile? 

As you already know, the internet can be a great tool for the jobseeker. But, it can have its disadvantages too, if you don’t know how to tailor your online profile and use social media to your advantage

In the survey of over 400 employers, potential recruiters weren’t checking out the LinkedIn, or professional profiles of candidates, mostly they were looking at social networking platforms: 62% looked at the Facebook page of candidates, while another 45% looked at Twitter feeds. Photo sharing sites came under scrutiny too with one in ten checking out Instagram accounts and 8% reviewing the Pinterest accounts of jobseekers. When so much of what we do is documented online, that can be quite worrying when you’re trying to find a job.

Social media post it on a palm of a customer

In the same way, a jobseeker can research a company they’re interested in; one of the easiest ways for companies to do a background check on candidates is to simply do a Google search. 49% of companies already do this. And more and more employers are choosing not to hire jobseekers based on what they find. 42% say they found content that caused them ‘not to hire’ the candidate, while an additional 18% found material that made it ‘doubtful’ they would hire the candidate. 

While evidence of drinking or drug-taking was top of the list for rejecting candidates, some employers did come across information that made them more likely to hire, such as background information which supported the claims made on their CV, as well as social media posts demonstrating creativity or intelligence.

Reviewing your social media profiles

If this all sounds a bit worrying, then maybe you’re right to be concerned. If you want to find a job, your online presence can make all the difference between success and failure. However, the good news is that it’s very easy to customise your online profile to make yourself more appealing to potential employers too.

Businesswoman laptop using ,Social, media, Marketing concept.

  • Avoid typos and incomplete profiles, which could suggest that you’re careless or don’t pay attention to detail.
  • Behave according to the rules and etiquette of the platform that you’re using. Be polite. Never use profanity.
  • Try to be creative in your postings. Being bland, generic or boring can be just as unattractive as using bad language.
  • Post statuses or information that demonstrate your skills, mention your qualifications or highlight what you can offer employers.
  • Be mindful of photos you post, or adjust your privacy settings so that only close friends can view them.
  • Be careful of how often you post. You don’t want potential employers (or even your current employer) thinking you spend more time on Facebook than you do working.
  • Don’t give away too much personal information, but at the same time, don’t be too secretive. Prospective employers want to see honesty but they don’t want to hire someone who will give away company secrets on their LinkedIn account.

Your online profile and presence are your personal brand. So, just like a company would do, make sure it represents you in the best possible light. Perhaps the best way to do this is to actually do a search on yourself. Type your name into Google and see what comes up. You might be surprised as things you posted on the Internet years ago can appear. If you don’t like what you see, then it might be time to do a bit of editing. Amending your privacy settings on platforms you use might be enough, but you might need to get in touch with friends too to ask them to delete stuff from their own profiles that link to you. And, in future, before posting anything, think how it might influence an employer’s view of you.

For more job seeking tips and advice, visit our Zoek blog or follow us on Twitter @Zoekappuk.

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