The other night I was watching TV and a candidate for Senate was being ridiculed by the press for a photo taken of him 10 years ago, while he was at university, doing something silly when he was on holidays with his friends. It wasn’t even that offensive or taboo, but it would have started the wrong type of conversations and distracted from his real qualities and values. And it got me thinking about recruitment and job hunting and how our online lives converge with our work lives at times.
For me, because I work in the digital space this overlap has been obvious to me for years. If I have a job interview or I want to approach a potential business partner, client or opportunity, the first thing I do is go to LinkedIn and look at that person’s profile. I’ll see if we have any connections in common and I might use that as an entry or discussion point. I’ll then do a google search to see if there have been any articles, interviews or blogs written about them or by them. I like to know who I’m talking to and if we have any common ground.
I have spoken with many recruiter friends of mine about this thought process and the online journey I take in considering my next steps. And it turns out recruiters and employers do the same thing when looking at potential candidates for a new role/ position.
Did you realise that recruiters and potential employees are screening candidates through social media?
If a recruiter or employer has too many CVs and its hard to cull them down to a shortlist, they identify all of the candidates that have the right experience and qualifications and if there’s too many they turn to social media to refine their search. One web search based on a name can reveal that person’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profile. One glance at the type of language they use in twitter and the photo’s on Facebook are enough for an employer to decide if this person is a potential liability to their business.
If you’re job hunting and you haven’t set your Facebook profile to private, with the new timeline, a potential employer can see something silly you may have done years ago and that could be all it takes to see your CV dropped promptly into the bin. It’s not fair and it shouldn’t be relevant how you conduct yourself in your private life, if it doesn’t affect your work life. But now, with social media and friends sharing and tagging photos of and uploading video and checking in at venues and liking your posts, we all get tarred by one dirty brush and your personal life DOES start to affect your work life.
So, my advice is, Set Your Facebook Profile to Private and watch your language when you’re having public discussions in twitter. In 5 years time, that might be the difference between getting your dream job or never getting another job again.