Keeping a Spotless Digital Image (Ashleyellis.com)
According to a survey conducted by careerbuilder.com, more than one in five employers search social media networking sites for candidate screening purposes. Although lawyers advise against it, as it could open doors to discrimination lawsuits, the proof is the pudding. Employers are doing it anyway, and the question is: What are you doing to ensure a positive impression?
Career Builder also asked employers which internet behaviors took the most potential candidates out of the running.
List and percentages courtesy of careerbuilder.com
• Information about alcohol or drug use (41% of managers said this was a top concern) • Inappropriate photos or information posted on a candidate’s page (40%) • Poor communication skills (29%) • Bad-mouthing of former employers or fellow employees (28%) • Inaccurate qualifications (27%) • Unprofessional screen names (22%) • Notes showing links to criminal behavior (21%) • Confidential information about past employers (19%)
Employers are looking at everything from Facebook pages and groups, to general message boards, and in this realm you really are “guilty by association.” Something as ostensibly insignificant as slang or improper grammar can convey a negative image to your potential employer. Generally, people (not just employers) stick to the old adage, “birds of a feather flock together,” so be sure to keep your website clear of any inappropriate comments or pictures, whether or not you are the author!
For these reasons, some may wonder why job seekers don’t just avoid social media altogether. The answer is, simply, because social media is not all bad! Social networking sites provide an excellent opportunity to play up your positive attributes and showcase your skills. So make social media work for you by using an employer’s interest in your internet persona to your advantage!
As a job seeker, the most important thing you can do for your digital image is display yourself in the most positive light imaginable. Update your statuses frequently, even casually mentioning your latest accomplishments, i.e., “It feels so good knowing that I built that software from the ground up, and saved the company millions of dollars!” Let your friends and family in on the deal too! A simple “good job on that last project…” from a friendly commenter will shine light in your favor. There’s no such thing as too many positive comments. Another resource which can be used in your favor are professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. Create a profile there, and link with other professionals in your same field. Professional networking sites are designed to make you look good, so be sure to take advantage of that!
If you already have a few spots on your digital image that don’t seem to want to disappear, don’t stress! There are a few things you can do to lessen the chances that a potential employer may stumble upon them. The most recent and relevant postings will always show up at the top of a traditional search engine results page. By increasing your recent internet presence, you in turn push the older (and possibly negative) search results to the bottom of the page. If you follow the steps above, the only thing a hiring manager will set eyes on is what you want them to: positive Facebook statuses, professional networking sites, intelligent conversations in IT forums, and complimentary comments from friends and family.
Think of social media as a fluid resume, of sorts. It enables you to express a more casual and personal impression, while still delivering your skills and qualifications in a neat little package. You can only win half the battle when you do not maintain a spotless digital image. Be sure to land your next big role with the help of a perfectly manicured message board!