Scrutinize Yourself – Look Very, Very Closely

by Peter Cotton, founder and president of Best Sales Talent, LLC




You’ve spent hours working on your resume to get it into tip-top shape and you are ready to conduct your job search, but wait, you aren’t quite ready. Before you set out to do a full-blown job search, it would be wise to do a full audit of all your social media outlets.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram – great places to share photos and videos and show comments from your friends and the world at large. It can be fun. It can be addictive. It can also be the reason why you won’t get that first interview for the job you really want. It might also be the reason why you won’t get an offer after you have met the employer.

According to a survey taken in 2007 by Ponemon Institute, a privacy think tank, 35% of hiring managers used Google to conduct online background checks on candidates, and 23% looked people up on social networking sites. About one-third of those searches lead to rejections, according to the survey. Care to guess what those percentages would be today if the survey was taken again? Some say that more than 85% of employers conduct online checks of those they are considering to hire. Because of the proliferation of social media in the last several years and its use by just about every generation, employers are using it to evaluate candidates every day.

Pretend that you are the hiring manager and look at your postings as if you were him (or her as the case may be) and ask yourself: “Is this person mature? Do I want this person as part of my team? Does he spend a lot of time every day posting stuff about every little thing he is doing or thinking? Will he be doing this at work?”

You might also look at your postings with the critical eye of a recruiter. Will he want to represent you to his clients? Too many photos of “partying” will give the recruiter an impression of you that will affect his bias. There are privacy settings on Facebook that allow you to prevent people from seeing your private photos unless you have given them access. Be sure the settings prevent anyone from seeing those private photos that might give a hiring authority or recruiter a bad impression of you.

Employers are very savvy. They will look at all your social media postings, as well who you are following, and it is likely they may make assumptions about what kind of a person you are – read that as: if you are the kind of person that will fit in at their company. They will never tell you the reason why you were not selected, but it could be that what you have “out there” about you is the reason why you don’t get an interview, or get hired.

Google yourself. See what comes up and be sure you know what it says, because an employer or recruiter is going to see it, too. If you see anything negative or unprofessional, be sure to do everything you can to remove it.  Embarrassing or otherwise poor-impression videos of yourself on YouTube?  Remove them.

If you have a LinkedIn profile take steps to be sure it is up-to-date and as complete as possible so it can tell your full employment story.   Make it easy for recruiters and employers to reach you by placing your email address and phone number where it can be found – either in the section under contact info (located right under the number of contacts your have on your profile), or in the summary section. And finally, make certain that everything is spelled correctly. Have a friend look at it with a different set of eyes. A poorly written profile gives as bad an impression as an excessive number of party photos.