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Controlling What Recruiters Find Out About You Online

Published: August 17, 2013 Author: Clearpoint Tags: Job Hunting

For today's job seekers, it's not enough to have a paper resume. Your digital presence--or lack thereof--factors strongly into the hiring decisions of most employers. In fact, a study from Microsoft found that 75 percent of U.S. recruiters and human resource professionals have formal policies that require them to research job applicants online. What's more, 86 percent say that their hiring decisions can be influenced by a positive online reputation.

When a potential employer types your name into Google, what are they going to find? If the answer is either nothing, or a lot of crude, embarrassing, or otherwise unprofessional social media posts and pictures, it's time to start controlling your online presence and improve your chances of landing the job you want.

Cleaning up your social profiles

Even if Google doesn't pick up anything unfortunate, you still have to ensure that your social media presence is in good shape. A recent survey from CareerBuilder found that 37 percent of employers look specifically at social networks, instead of relying solely on general search engines. There are even screening services like Social Intelligence to help them streamline the process.

Take a good look at everything you've posted online, from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to your old and forgotten MySpace account. Pay attention to any photo services you might use, anything you've subscribed to and synced with a social media network, and any website where you might have a public profile, such as a dating service.

Get rid of anything that is inappropriate for your job search. Some general guidelines include:

  • Make sure your profile pictures are professional head shots, not celebrities or cartoon characters or random pictures of your family or pets. Profile pics are the most likely to be seen by potential employers, so you'll want to show your best side.
  • Remove any images or content that focuses on drinking (unless it's socially appropriate, like having a glass of champagne at a wedding), and any mention at all of drugs, drug paraphernalia, or support of drugs.
  • Scour any sexually explicit or highly suggestive photos and conversations.
  • Delete any tags that document unprofessional activities.

Optimizing your online presence for employment

Once you've made sure you look like a reasonable, employable person on social media, you should emphasize your hire-ability and make information about your strong candidate qualities readily available through online searches.

If you don't already have a LinkedIn account, make sure to get one and fill out your profile thoroughly. LinkedIn is the dominant social network for hiring professionally, with a survey from Bullhorn finding that 97.3 percent of the responding recruiters and staffing professionals used LinkedIn as a recruiting tool.

However, many used LinkedIn as just one checkpoint for candidates. The same survey found that almost all of them (98.2 percent) looked at some form of social media to find and researched candidates--so it's important to build as much professional social presence as possible.

Google Plus is an up-and-coming research destination for recruiters. Because Google is the primary search engine in the United States, most employers will type your name in there as part of their background check. When you have an optimized Google+ profile, they'll pull up a visually impressive snapshot of you as the first result on Google.

Create a customized search result with Vizibility

In addition to services that make online checks easier for employers, there are tools for job seekers that help them control what employers find. One of them is Vizibility. This free service lets you compile a customized, interactive "map" that you can hand (or email) to employers, so they'll see only the most accurate and relevant information about you online.

With Vizibility, you can create QR codes and SearchMe buttons that lead to a curated search results page, which you've built ahead of time to showcase your best qualities. You can also set up alerts that notify you by email or text when someone has used your code or links to search for you.

The effort you put into controlling your online presence can make the difference to an employer, and put you ahead of the other candidates for the job you want. Take the time to clean up your digital footprint, and enjoy a rewarding conclusion to your job search.

If you are looking for jobs in the Houston area, contact Clearpoint today.

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