I have led a workshop on how job seekers can get the most out of LinkedIn since February at the PSG of Mercer County, where I am a volunteer. Although the professional networking powerhouse has existed since 2003 and now boasts over 70 million users, a lot of job seekers in this economy know next to nothing about it. A very common concern that participants express in those workshops is about privacy.
I always respond in the same way: if you want hiring managers to discover how talented you are, you must be bold and stand out. Concealing your presence is the exact opposite: please don’t do that! It is vitally important to job seekers that they propagate their professional brand. And LinkedIn is one of the best ways for a job seeker to do just that.
But a less well-recognized issue facing job seekers is the fact that organizations are now vetting candidates by examining their social media footprint. Recently, my friend Jen Baty retweeted a post that sums up the issue:
“I’m working w/some1 who does complete social media audit 4 top job candidates.”
Originally posted by Sarah Evans, this underscores something I have been saying in that workshop for months: if it’s online and associated with your name it’s part of your online branding strategy—for good or for ill.
Just as job seekers are being exhorted to leverage social media for job search purposes, organizations are doing the same to weed out candidates. This means that if you have said it and it can be traced back to you, it might be the difference between getting the call and not getting the call.
This awareness apparently still eludes some, as evidenced by this story of a woman fired for a Facebook post. I found the story with this query on Google, “employee fired for facebook comment”, which returned over 7 million results. I am fond of saying that the fate one most wants to avoid in the modern day is serving as someone else’s cautionary tale. The job market is bad enough. There’s no reason at all to make it even harder.
So before hitting the Send button, if you’re a job seeker ask yourself this question: will this post harm my job search?