Google search yourself before a job interview
WITH RACHAEL NELSON
SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (SHRM) HAWAII VOLUNTEER, AND DIRECTOR AT FORSITE RECRUITMENT, MSHRM (CHICAGO AND HAWAII), PROFESSIONAL MEMBER OF RCSA (AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND), CERTIFIED MEMBER AUSTRALIAN HUMAN RESOURCES INSTITUTE AND NPA WORLDWIDE.
With the vast majority of employers now using social media to advertise positions and source candidates, it makes sense that they are also using it to do background research on candidates — there are more than 500 million people who use LinkedIn. With this in mind, it is critical that jobseekers make sure their digital footprint is one they are happy for prospective employers to see. A recent survey by Hunt Scanlon Media revealed that 54 percent of employers have bypassed a candidate if they did not have a suitable digital footprint.
Q: I am not comfortable with employers looking at my social media. What can I do to stop that from happening?
A: Personal social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, should be kept locked down using privacy settings so only those you approve of can access these profiles. You should also be protecting your privacy by ensuring you have full approval on all posts you are tagged in before they appear on your timeline. A prospective employer is not permitted to ask for your social media passwords. This would be violating the Federal Stored Communications Act, which is applicable in all 50 U.S. states. If you make public posts, where you express overly strong views, use inappropriate language, are engaged in drinking heavily or drug taking, employers might see these posts as unfavorable.
Q: My social media history is not wonderful. Would it be better to just shut it all down?
A: No, but it may be time for an audit. Employers expect to see a digital footprint for candidates. Erasing this footprint could suggest you have something to hide or that you are not tech savvy. Use this as an opportunity to make sure your professional profiles such as LinkedIn are polished and updated. If there are posts on your private media you don’t want seen, then you should edit, remove or lock them down. I regularly hear of employers or recruiters ask a prospective candidate or jobseeker, “If I Google you what will I find?” I suggest you do just that and see what your digital footprint is like.
Q: How can I make my social media stand out for the right reasons?
A: Use social media to tell the right story about you. Prospective employers look to LinkedIn to see if a prospective candidate is a thought leader and strategist. They also pay attention to what candidate’s interests are while taking into account their background and who their connections are. Start posting and commenting on posts about topics that are related to your field and professional ambitions. Follow thought leaders in your industry and start engaging in conversations with professionals in the same field.