Is your online profile making you unemployable?

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We’ve all been there, waking up after a heavy night out to find that little red notification sign that fills you with dread. I for one, often find myself cringing with embarrassment at the photos I am tagged in the morning after a few drinks too many.

Well thanks to the new generation of smartphones, tagging and documenting our every move is easier and more common than ever. It may well be funny when you’re laughing over it with your friends but putting it on a public online platform means it won’t just be for their eyes only.

With recent surveys by Jobvite showing that a massive 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media in their recruitment process and that 42% of these recruiters reconsider a candidate based on their social profiles, sending that drunken tweet could come at a high cost to your future.

Social media may feel like a blessing for socialising and networking but bring employers into the mix and it now has the power to damage your professional life.

Twenty-five-year-old Simon Crimp studied Nursing at Brighton University in 2012 and found out just how much of a threat social media was to his career.  All students were told on arrival that social media would be heavily monitored and it was made clear that any reference to alcohol on their profiles would result in dismissal and an end to their career.

“A friend with a smartphone turned into a massive threat to our careers,” says Simon.

I recently carried out an anonymous survey to see just how aware you are of the potential damage an ill-timed status update could be and results showed that only 38% of you monitor your Facebook and Twitter accounts and an even lower 11% of you see them as platforms to portray a professional online presence.

With the majority of the responses stating that it was unfair to judge someone’s employability on their actions outside of a professional environment, with one student saying:

“It’s not appropriate for an employer not to hire you based on your tweets made from a personal account. Who you are outside of work is different to your professional hours, why should we change who we are in our own time for a job”.

Head of the Talent Department at the employment mentoring scheme Unlocking Potential, Nicky Luke, reinforced just how accessible information is to employers online. Unlocking Potentials ‘Stand Out from the Crowd’ programme features a new software package which allows them to enter an email address gaining results from anything that has been posted online connected to it.

“We quite often do sit down with graduates and shock them with what we’ve managed to find out,” including stuff from years ago that the person in question may have forgotten about.

Eighteen-year-old Journalism student Aysha Bryant was unfortunate to discover that keeping your professional and personal life separate is easier said than done when social networking sites are brought in to the situation.

“I risked my job when I posted something on Facebook ranting against the company I work for which Head Office spotted and I was consequently given a stern telling off by my store manager…safe to say I won’t be doing that again.”

Monitoring your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram accounts is something which is becoming increasingly important, be it changing your privacy settings or what you allow on your profiles. Employers will be looking to social media to see how potential employees carry themselves in everyday life.

As Nicky Luke warned, “It is everything you do; it has to support the personality that you are facing employers with. It’s about just being appropriate and using it as a tool to demonstrate your values and what you’re about as a person in a positive way for employers.”

Twitter is a trickier area due to the fact that nothing is private, so unless you are willing to make sure everything is “boss-appropriate” then perhaps use a pseudonym on your account so you are harder to find.

In the past few years, networking online has become a prominent part of our generations everyday life, and it should not be underestimated just how damaging this could be to your career, nor should it be ignored just how beneficial it could be to kick starting your career if used correctly.

Twenty-year-old Digital Media student Ashleigh Coonan secured herself a job at Good Vibes Café in Falmouth through her use of social media site Instagram, “One of the reasons I got my current job was because of the Instagram pictures I posted and hashtagged about their business.”

Social networking sites have the potential to make or break your careers, so be aware and sensible about what you are posting or getting involved with on these sites and the fact that employers are checking out your pages should be no problem at all. An important tip given from Unlocking Potentials Nicky Luke is to keep in mind that “putting stuff out there in the public domain is like putting stuff on a billboard!” 

Photo Credit: Spencer E Holtaway via Compfight cc

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Penny Heaton

Recent Journalism graduate denying the fact that I am no longer a student and writing about university life, careers and entertainment. Visit my personal blog to read interviews and reviews: http://pennyaheaton.wordpress.com/

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