- 65% of hiring managers do an Internet search of job applicants as part of the initial screening process.
- 51% want to know if the candidate is a good fit for the company culture.
- 34% of hiring managers reported rejecting an applicant because of unfavorable online images.
- Facebook and LinkedIn are the top sites investigated when researching applicants.
Get the Look
People often regard their online profiles (inexplicably) as somehow private, and nothing could be further from the truth. If you are looking for a job, they are going to be looking at you to find out if you’re suitable for their work environment. Rejection is one toilet-hugging picture away.
This is not to say you can’t have fun, real-life pictures in your profile – you can – but tone it down while you’re in the job search. Get rid of any feeds that might put objectionable images or commentary on your homepage (or anywhere, for that matter). Present a professional image to those that come to investigate.
Khakis could be appropriate if you’re an adventure guide, zookeeper, or survival expert; a pleasant business suit could win the day for you if you’re trying for an office-type job. Whatever it is that you do, dress appropriately in your photos.
“Social media is a primary vehicle of communication today, and because much of that communication is public, it’s no surprise some recruiters and hiring managers are tuning in,” says Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.
If you have no presence at all online, that could be even worse. You’re out of sync with the rest of the world and you’ll be perceived as a liability to an organization.
So make an effort and present a professional image. When asked what their motivation was for investigating applicants online, most hiring managers said “to see if the candidate is well-rounded” and “to look for reasons not to hire the candidate.” Another 65% said they do it to see if the job seeker presents himself or herself professionally.
But don’t just hide the dirt. Build the profile so it puts you in a positive light. Looking for a job with a hardcore right-wing organization? Get rid of that photo showing you helping out at a homeless shelter. However, if you’re applying to Greenpeace, make sure it’s right up front.
Take some time and go look at profiles on LinkedIn for people already in your profession. See what people are doing; what seems to be appropriate and acceptable; then do something similar.
Make sure all your profiles match. Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn or wherever else you participate should tell essentially the same story. Stark differences raise suspicions so be consistent.
Veracity or Verisimilitude?
Big words! But what do they mean to you? Your profile should NOT contradict your job application. Did you say you were a consultant at CERN in Geneva for the last six months (because they’ll never check, you think), but your Facebook talks about the six-month long torrid love affair and party you were attending in France during that time? Smarten up!
Aesop’s fable of the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing teaches us that “The Credit got by a lie only lasts till the truth comes out.” And this applies to all things. Did you claim to have a degree? It is easy to check, and it’s grounds for dismissal. Be prudent.
- Make sure you have a profile to be searched; lack a profile – lack a job!
- Clean up the detrimental trash and craft a profile related to the job you want.
- Be consistent across all profiles on all platforms and be professional.
- Tell the truth or HR will find out.
If you are typical, you have some things on your profiles that you ought to go and fix right now, so get to it before you send out another resume. If you didn’t understand why they weren’t calling you before, maybe you do now. Go make it pretty!