Social Networking & Its Effect on Job Seekers

Many people use social networking sites to communicate with friends about upcoming plans for the weekend, events that happened last weekend, or just to catch up. But should those out there in the job market take a closer look at their own social profiles to make sure they are employer-friendly?

According to a CareerBuilder survey, 1 in 5 employers are using social networking sites to do research on potential employees. 22% of hiring managers claim they screen candidates through social networking sites, which is quite a big leap up from the 11% who did so in 2006. 9% currently don’t research candidates, but say they plan to. And 34% said they found content on the candidate’s profile that led them to dismiss them from consideration.

Some of the things on the profiles that led the employers to make such a decision were posted information about them drinking or using drugs, provocative or inappropriate photographs or information, poor communication skills, and lies about qualifications, among many other things.

Then again, social networking has given some job seekers a better shot at getting the job. “Sixteen percent of workers who have social networking pages said they modified the content on their profile to convey a more professional image to potential employers,” according to Rosemary Haefner, VP of Human Resources at CareerBuiler.com. 24% of hiring managers who screened candidates found content on profiles that confirmed their decision to hire the candidate. Some examples of profile info that led the employer to make this decision include the candidate’s background supporting qualifications for the job, great communication skills, a good fit for the company, and conveying a professional image.

Some social networking sites, such as MySpace, allow the user to approve comments before they are posted on their profile wall. This helps you to convey the image you’d like your potential employer to see. Nikki telling you that “you made Britney Spears look like Mother Theresa last Saturday” probably won’t help you get that job at the bank. If you are using a site that doesn’t give you the option to approve comments before they are posted, it would probably be in your best interest to make your profile private, so you can select who does and who doesn’t get to see those pictures of you half naked, with a bottle of Jack having a picnic with a garden gnome you named Sir. Richard. You also may want to be selective in the groups you join ala Facebook. Being in a group called “The Drunk n’ Crunk Patrol” may not exactly be the best move.

So, if you are one of the many people out there in the job market with a social networking page, you might want to login and make sure your profile is employer-friendly or just make it private all together, because you never know who may be looking at it to see if you truly are the right person for the job!