Think you can put on a smile, act professional in your interview, and land the job? Not in today's world.
A recent Career Builder survey found that 48 percent of employers research candidates via search engine. In addition to this, 44 percent use Facebook to screen employees and 27 percent monitor Twitter activity.
If you're struggling to find a job, perhaps it's not your interview skills you're falling short on but rather the way you present yourself online.
What This Means For You
With more companies using the Internet to screen employees, it means that every comment you post on blogs, every picture you share on Facebook, and every Tweet you send has the potential to sabotage your future career.
Think that rant you went on a year ago doesn't mean anything anymore? Convinced that photo of you passed out drunk in your college dorm can cause no harm? Believe that selfie of you in a bikini won't find its way to your employer?
You couldn't be more wrong.
Twelve percent of hiring managers using social media to screen employees are actually looking for reasons not to hire people. This means that even if your profiles show your expertise or volunteer experience, they still won't hire you if they find party pictures or inappropriate status updates.
Think Your Information is Safe?
If you're not concerned about your online presence yet, you should be. Even if your profile is set to private, there are still ways around these privacy settings that make it easy for employers to find reasons not to hire you.
In an article on NPR.org, Martin Kaste reports on this very issue citing that applications you use with your profiles can gain access to your personal information, even when you think it's safe. He also shares a quote from Rapleaf's CEO, Auren Hoffman. His company looks at forums, blogs, social media, and other profiles, and Hoffman says, "All those things combined can give you a really good picture of a person."
How To Clean Up Your Online Presence
You can't completely delete everything you put online, and if you want to remove posts that haunt you, it's a long and difficult task. CNET.com goes over steps you can take, which involves contacting sites directly, removing URLs from search engines, and even paying hundreds of dollars to clean up your name.
While deleting files from the Internet is difficult, you can clean up your profiles and make information harder to find for your potential employers. Use these tips to help you clean up your online presence and make you seem more hireable.
- Search your own name. Start by typing your own name into Google. What do you find? Do any inappropriate images show up? Are there profiles you've created you no longer want or need? Have you posted comments on websites that show you in an unprofessional light? If so, go through and delete as much of this information as you can directly from your profiles.
- Delete inappropriate Facebook photos. Look at your profile (or have a friend look at it) from an employer's perspective. Would you hire you? Get rid of excessive selfies. Take down party photos, particularly those with alcohol in the shot, and be selective about beach and bikini photos. Your friends tagged you in a post you don't like? Remove the tag.
- Log out of your profiles and search your name. This will give you an idea of what the public sees, which may be much more than you intent. Consider changing your privacy settings or deleting the items you don't want public. Learn how to edit your Facebook privacy settings here.
- Don't post racial, rude, or profanity in the first place. People can easily share, retweet, or take snapshots of your posts, which means that if you regret it later, you can't keep employers from finding it.
With so many employers using the Internet to screen employees, it's important that you take necessary steps to ensure you look professional online the same way you take care of your physical appearance in an interview.