The internet now plays a huge role in the recruitment process for both employers and for candidates. With the increasing prevalence of online resumes, digital portfolios and job listings, the recruitment process has firmly shifted into the online domain.

But while the internet offers increased visibility and ease of application, it can also come with some risks for unsuspecting job seekers.

Most hiring managers and recruiters will routinely carry out an internet search on anyone they might be interested in interviewing, and though many people actively monitor their online presence and are conscientious with their privacy settings, others are much more lax when it comes to their online footprint.

Many forget that it’s not just their friends, but also professional contacts who will be looking them up online. Think about it. Is there anything in your social media profiles that would hurt your chances of being hired or considered for an interview if your prospective employer, interviewer or recruiter checked them?

What are recruiters looking for online?

In their search for strongly-aligned job candidates, it’s not surprising that many employers will turn to the internet for help in sourcing and researching high potential talent. They’ll not only be searching for a CV that fits their particular criteria, but they’ll also want to find a person who fits in well with the outlook and the values of their organisation.

This is where your online interactions could let you down and sound alarm bells for a potential employer. No matter how strong your CV is, if an employer finds your online presence inappropriate or offensive, you are seriously jeopardising your chances of landing the role or even getting an interview. As people continue to record their lives on social networks, it’s wise to adopt a considered and cautious approach to your online posting – especially when seeking work.

Check your privacy settings

To keep your personal life personal, triple-check your settings on social media so that your posts are only visible to friends – and also be careful of who you accept as a friend or follower i.e. someone who works for the same employer that could work in the same team you could potentially be joining if you are offered the job.

It also helps to log out of your accounts and run a search for yourself online – you might be surprised to see what comes up. Put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter or hiring manager and think critically about what you find. If there’s anything that would make you question reliability, commitment, professionalism or any other quality you’d want in a new hire, either increase your security and privacy settings, or delete the post.

Think twice before posting

Ask yourself: Could what I’m about to post potentially offend anyone? Monitor the photos and other updates you share, particularly on Facebook, as you don’t want photos that could be misunderstood to put off a potential employer, or that might reflect badly on an employer, to come up as a search result.

Just as importantly, if your mates are prone to tagging you in inappropriate conversations or photos, remember to double-check those privacy settings too. Without context, it will be easy for someone who has never met you or who only knows you from a CV to make fast – and negative – judgement calls based on social media content that isn’t even your own.

Keep the personal and professional separate

Professional networks, such as LinkedIn, should be used for career-related activity only and not mixed with your personal, social account content, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. LinkedIn is designed for professional networking, so casual or personal updates and comments are best kept to a minimum.

You can even go a few steps further by creating a professional Facebook account, keeping your personal account separate and harder to find by using a different name – for example, a nickname, your first name with your middle name, or a different surname.

Be careful what you say

Though it may be tempting to vent frustrations online, avoid bad-mouthing fellow colleagues, your current/ex-boss or the company you work for. Any employer would be wary of someone who airs their work frustrations in this way, and you can never be completely sure of who’ll see your posting (via friends of friends, screenshots, and so on).

It goes without saying that foul language, racist and inappropriate remarks, insults and even strong controversial opinions that are visible online will not put you in the best light – and remember, what you put online, even if it’s well hidden or later deleted, never really goes away.

Use social media to your professional advantage

It’s worth stating here that social media is increasingly creeping into roles that it wouldn’t have been a part of, previously. With this in mind, it could impress an employer if you occasionally posted interesting articles or commentary related to your chosen field or industry.

If you’re looking for other ways to boost your job search through social media in a positive way, consider starting a blog that shows your knowledge and interest in the industry you hope to get a job in.

Are your social media profiles job search-ready? Browse our open roles to find your next career move.

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