How Social Media can impact your job search

How Social Media can impact your job search

I have been thinking more about the post that Julie of Writing Roads posted last week, “At the intersection of heartbreak street and internet avenue.” It was a post that reminded us of what's at stake when we are involved with social media.

But there is more at risk than a bad break-up. It could cost you a job. I wrote about this topic before in the post, but I just wanted to expand on it a bit more.

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The impact of social media on todayʼs job search environment is significant compared to say 2-3 years ago, particularly when it comes to the amount of information available for potential employers to “review” prior to selecting candidates.

Reversely, the availability of information on the web also makes it easy for potential employees to do research people before interviews. I can tell you that I have definitely done that for interview preparation. Furthermore, my first instinct when considering business relationships is to Google someone and see what comes up. For a lot of companies these days, this is something that is frequently done before hiring anybody as an employee, consultant, or contractor.

Anyone can easily find personal information about anyone else simply by doing a Google search. Social media has increased the proliferation of photos, personal stories, information about religious and political point-of-view, as well as sexual orientation and relationship status, things that a company is forbidden to ask, people, make widely available on the internet for free.

So what can you do to ensure that you manage your reputation, particularly if you are looking for work? Google yourself!

Go to Google and enter your first and last name in quotes, for example: “Andi Fisher” – this will narrow the results and only give you those two words (in this case, names) together rather than pulling up anything with either just Andi or just Fisher (plus those with both Andi and Fisher).

What comes up? Clean up whatever needs to be cleaned up, including old profiles you may have created months or years ago and then abandoned. Think about your tagging strategy for Facebook if you are in a lot of pictures, are they appropriate? Do you have a personal blog? Is the content appropriate for your profession?

Now what if you Google yourself and there isn't much there? No worries…start building up your numbers by creating accounts on some social media networks, particularly LinkedIn if you are looking for a job. Post articles or comment on professional forums in your industry. Start a blog. This can be done slowly over time. This is an easier “problem” to fix than say your name was headlined in your college newspaper after you were arrested for hazing or something like that!

For all the freedom that we have in the United States, we sometimes pay a price. The privacy laws protecting data collection are much stricter in the European Union. Make sure that you Google yourself on a monthly basis. Do an audit on yourself and your reputation. Safeguard it and protect it for future employment, business, or personal opportunities.

No one else is going to do it for you, you must do it for yourself.

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  1. So true. One interesting aspect to all of this is this: year’s ago is was tough for the common every day person to leave a permanent stamp on the world. That’s why I remember feeling so proud when, at Penn State, I found my mom’s name in the University Library card catalog. (Her thesis was stocked there). In the early days of the Internet, most people could google themselves and zip would come up. But now, with the proliferation of blogs, twitter facebook and more, you never have to feel like a no one. Your name is always appearing somewhere.

  2. Really great point, Andi. I have a young coworker who’s also a Facebook friend and recently she posted a status update saying she was now a member of the DUI club. Not smart–any future employer who sees that is definitely going to think twice about hiring her!

  3. Social media can also cost you your job. My cousin’s husband had a big problem with putting his job complaints on both Facebook & Twitter. And he wondered why he kept getting fired! I had to tell his wife (my cousin) to tell him to quit bitching online! You would think it would be common sense!

  4. I’m just not sure what I think of all this. I know it’s true. I know there are risks and there are certain boundaries I won’t push past. But, for me, I let my job brand me for so long. I was so buttoned up for the sake of my employer, I lost myself. Sometimes, being exactly who you are on your blog – albeit not being an exhibitionist – can lead to opportunities. A rep from a federal agency contacted me about a program. They wanted to know more about me and my work. Off went my resume. Now, we’re talking about program management opportunities in Oklahoma. And, as you know, I’m out there with religion and politics. I try not to be bombastic or cruel, but I’m certain I’ve burned bridges. To quote Don Henley – sometimes, it’s how you get the brightest light. But, I do know everything you say here is true, and some people have a lot to be worried about.

  5. Hello.

    I was wondering how employers handle cases where a person’s name is pretty common. I tried Googling myself (my real name is Margaret but I also tried Margo) and the Facebook profiles that showed up were not mine (though the result about being on the Dean’s list this semester was!). Will employers study these profiles carefully to make sure it’s my profile and not someone else with the same name?

    What do you think?

    1. @Margo, I have a similar issue in that there is another Andi Fisher who is some kind of New Age priestess slash poet in South America! I would hope that your potential employer is looking at all the data on you holistically and if something doesn’t mesh they could ask you. Having said that I was thinking maybe you could add your middle initial to your resume and your Facebook profile so that they can match it up. That might help a bit.