My web presence has gotten out of control. I just spent the last few hours pruning it down to something manageable. I still have to go through the accounts I’m keeping to make sure that everything is appropriate for any potential boss to see. I’ve made sure that anyone who isn’t a Friend on Facebook can’t see my pole dancing photos. They also don’t need to see photos of me in the hospital during labor (thank you, husband, for taking them to begin with), so I’ll be going through Flickr this weekend to put restrictions on some photo sets.
This may sound a little over the top, but a CareerBuilder.com survey found that 45 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates (more than double from the year before). Industries that specialize in technology and sensitive information are most likely to screen job candidates via social networking sites or online search engines. If you’re indiscreet on Facebook, who’s to say you can hold your tongue about Top-Secret government programs?
The survey also reported the top reasons why an employer did NOT choose to hire certain job applicants:
- Posted inappropriate photographs or information – 53%
- Posted content about them drinking or using drugs – 44%
- Bad-mouthed previous employer, co-workers or clients – 35%
- Showed poor communication skills – 29%
- Made discriminatory comments – 26%
- Lied about qualifications – 24%
- Shared confidential info from previous employer – 20%
Even your emoticon usage could be detrimental as 14 percent of employers rejected candidates for using them!
This does not bode well for me. (I would like to go on record, however, by saying that I have never used one in a cover letter or email to potential employer.)
Fortunately, most stumbling blocks can be avoided by making most things on your profile only visible to friends. One thing you DO have to worry about is what other people write on your wall. Don’t be afraid to delete your friend’s funny comment about that drunken night out if you’re currently applying for jobs. You both had a good laugh, but get rid of it afterwards. Look at everything through the eyes of an extremely conservative CEO.
I have also gone through my list of followers on Twitter to make sure that certain people can’t read what I write. And when I do vent about clients or work, I never name names and I always remain vague. Your close friends will get it, so you don’t have to be detailed. Better yet, avoid Internet venting altogether.
Another tip: when sending out your resume or using a job search site, use an email address unlike the one you use for social networking. That way, when prospective employers search Facebook using the email address from your resume, nothing will come up.
Not only have I decided to do all of the aforementioned things, but I’m also in the middle of redesigning my website. It will have a conservative public section and will have a section will all of my “life” items and social media links that I don’t necessarily want potential employers to see. That half will be only be accessible by a short list of people I deem cool enough. I’ll let you know how that goes. J Oh no! I just emoted.
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