With 584 million daily users on Facebook alone, there’s no doubting we live in a ‘switched on’ world. But while we engage in social networking, some of us with abandon, employers around the world are watching.

When it comes to Facebook and Twitter,  keep in  mind that your online behaviour  can certainly influence their job prospects, recruiters and hiring managers are Googling job candidates so anything that has been posted online could show up in a search if the correct privacy settings are not utilised.

Social networking has become a staple of the hiring process, not just for employers but for candidates too.

Recruitment – How social networking fits in

There’s no doubting the internet plays a key role in the recruitment process. You may have used it to apply for a position or post a job opening.

When it comes to social networking, job seekers use it in a variety of ways, one of which is to market themselves. They post “information about their job experience, accomplishments, areas of expertise, interests and career aspirations and you can also use  it to search for jobs and research potential employers.

On the flip side, employers may use social networking to promote their companies, post job openings, advertise recruitment events and research or recruit potential employees.

Social networking – The stats

When they jump online to post a comment or upload a file, how many users are really thinking about their job? Few, it seems, according to a 2010 report. The report, Online Reputation in a Connected World, involved around 275 recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers, and about 330 consumers across four countries. It revealed that:

  • Seventy per cent of the US recruiters and HR professionals surveyed admitted to rejecting candidates based on information they found online.
  • Only seven per cent of US consumers surveyed felt that their online presence affected their job prospects.
  • Eighty-five per cent of the US recruiters and HR professionals surveyed reported that a positive online presence influenced their hiring decision to some extent.

Online behaviour – The good, the bad and the ugly

It’s not hard to imagine what might turn employers off hiring a person. Negative online behaviour includes posting descriptions or pictures of drinking, drug use, emotional outbursts, any kind of violent behaviour and discriminatory comments or derogatory comments about others, particularly current or past employers.

Unfortunately, the list doesn’t end there. Relatively innocent information can still have an impact including information posted regarding sexual orientation, religious affiliation, medical conditions or family status, including pictures of small children or new baby announcements

Alternatively, an online presence that can work in your favour includes one that is “consistent with your professional ambitions. Links to articles, videos, blogs by or about you that reflect your achievements and expertise can positively affect your job prospects.

How to improve your online reputation  

  1. DEVELOP YOUR ONLINE PROFILE
    LinkedIn remains the best social network tool for career purposes Carefully develop a LinkedIn profile that highlights your experience and achievements.
  2. VALUE YOUR PRIVACY
    Choose   the highest privacy settings possible on all other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, particularly if you are an active job hunter. “In addition, make sure that your online profile pictures are professional since it is likely that your profile picture will be accessible even without access to your Facebook or Twitter profiles.”
  3. BRIEF YOUR CONTACTS
    “Notify your friends and contacts of your job search and ask them to be respectful.

 

Before posting, ask yourself, ‘Would I want a potential employer to see this?