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Employer social networking

Did you read my post on the pitfalls of having Social Networking profiles while maintaining a profession identity and think, “Ben’s just exaggerating”?

imageThink again (HT: Christine), a survey found that over 20% of employers do look (and an additional 10% will start looking soon) for the social networking profiles of jobseekers, and, in fact, 1/3 of employers have found information which caused them to drop a job candidate.

But, as I mentioned before, instead of thinking of this as a reason to restrict access to your Facebook account to only those who know your magic 52-digit password, think of it as an opportunity to put your best foot forward. After all, 1/4 of employers found information on social networks which helped convince them to hire a candidate.

So, what to do? First step, clean out your profile pages of:

  • Drug/alcohol use: Yes, it’s cool that you drank your weight in beer at that keg party, but that’s really not what your employer wants to see
  • Inappropriate photos: Unless you’re interviewing for a position as an adult film star or a mafia enforcer, leave out those “compromising” pictures
  • Examples of poor communication: “I’s am can communicateding really goodly” and other less dramatic examples of poor spelling and bad grammar don’t reflect well on your attention to detail or your ability to communicate with your coworkers, clients, and superiors
  • Bad-mouthing people at work: It doesn’t matter how bad the boss or how obnoxious the coworker, bad-mouthing them on a public forum reflects very poorly on you and your professionalism.
  • Evidence that you misrepresented yourself on your resume: Writing on your resume that you have an MBA from Harvard doesn’t make it true, especially if your Facebook profile says you’re a high school dropout.
  • Confidential information about past employers: This is not only stupid, but illegal.

Second step? Add some information to present a “more balanced” view of you online:

  • “Compatible” interests: Nobody expects you to be super-interested in everything your employer (current or prospective) does, but you should be able to show some baseline level of enthusiasm for the job that you’re trying to land.
  • “Professional” photos: As much as employers would deny it, a lot about a first impression is visual. So, while you don’t need to take down all the pictures of you from your trip to Cancun, you should definitely make sure there are pictures of you up there looking sharp and presentable.
  • Depth of thought: Want your employer to think you’re smart and goal-oriented? Put something on there that makes them believe it. Link to interesting and thought-provoking articles or blogs. Include quotes which convey your personality the way you want to be thought of.
  • Evidence that your resume is accurate: It never hurts to befriend real coworkers or classmates, or join online communities/groups which reflect the accomplishments on your resume.
  • Get Linkedin: I used to think that LinkedIn was just Facebook, but for a slightly older demographic. But then, I read Guy Kawasaki’s great list of ten ways to use LinkedIn, and then watched consultants at my firm use it to get access to interviews and sources of information which I had thought inaccessible. It’s real and has a ton of value.

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