Eighty six percent of employers use the Web to conduct background checks on potential employees. And the number one place they’re going is social networks, trolling as much for positive information as bad. As a result, 74 percent of job candidates are checked out for some kind of presence on the Internet, and instead of just looking at paper resumes, human resource professionals and hiring managers are adapting how they find and communicate with prospective employees. Here’s what they look for when measuring someone’s digital footprint.
Ron Demeter, a vice president of media strategy at Mozaic Media, a public relations firm in Los Angeles, says when he’s hiring, he goes through a very extensive background check. And it’s all online. “I look for an appropriate LinkedIn profile, a respectable Facebook page and a responsible and/or private Twitter account,” Demeter explained. “Drunken photos, implied drug use and profiles that do not match up with resumes is an obvious red flag.”
Demeter says “maintaining a respectable Web presence is important,” but what could be even worse is having no presence. “If that’s the case, I assume the person may be lacking in business savvy.”
It’s just as important to have content and brand yourself online as it is to keep that material spick-and-span. That means share your accomplishments and positives on social sites, not the negatives, not the party pictures. Market yourself as a professional and create a reputation.
These trends aren’t just happening in the U.S. According to a new report that interviewed 1,500 hiring managers and HR professionals from North America and Europe, results point to an industry-wide shift to online hiring practices.
A new report from cloud-based human capital management company SuccessFactors found that when it comes to hiring trends, the U.S. is more likely to use Facebook to search for data when reviewing potential hires. The Netherlands, on the other hand, was more likely to use LinkedIn and Twitter. But no matter what country was asked, they all leaned towards social media as sources to study and track people.
So who gets hired? And how do you keep your job once you have it? Think of it this way: cleanliness is close to godliness, perhaps nowhere more than online. And because of a shaky economy, businesses can be picky about who they hire. This means you have to keep and clean up your online presence: No racy pictures; nothing that could give an employer anything but a professional image of you.
It sounds simple, but it’s like tending a garden. Constant watering and manicuring keep it clean and healthy. Apply the same practice to your social media accounts, and if you see a pesky weed like, say, a picture of you from college with a red cup in hand, pluck it out before it grows and gets seen on other social threads…or by a hiring manager.
Quick, what do you do if you can’t scrub your online presence? Perhaps there are pictures of you floating around Google showing you in less-than-desirable situations. Check out a new service called Erase Me Out, an easy-to-use online guide to taking down information for reputation and privacy concerns. It’s user-friendly, but it’s not free. Then again, there’s a price on everything. Especially your rep.
And even if you have the job, you’re not home free yet. Remember to keep applying these tactics, and never say anything disparaging about your company online. Your boss may just be checking you out on Facebook, so don’t be the overzealous employee who gets fired for your Web woes. Keep it clean, and keep your job.