Put Your Best (Digital) Foot Forward

April 11th, 2011 by Andrea Bennett

Curious what employers think about your social networking habits?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

It’s fairly obvious that a distasteful tweet or a profile picture of you doing a keg stand would put off potential employers. But how much attention are they actually paying to your social networking? More than you’d think, according to a recent survey.

Job search site Vault.com surveyed 150 companies last summer and unearthed some interesting results. While an overwhelming majority – 93 percent – of employers said they had not rejected a candidate based on their presence on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, more than a third of them are looking. And nearly a third of recruiters use social media to “spot check” potential employees.

Not surprisingly, LinkedIn – primarily a professional site (official colleague recommendations, no tagged photos) – is the most popular tool among recruiters. Nearly three-quarters of them said they use it to find candidates, and half use it to check up on candidates’ professional backgrounds. Only 7 percent of recruiters used Facebook to do professional checks, and slightly more (14 percent) utilized it to assess social reputations. Twitter wasn’t used much at all – a maximum of 3 percent of recruiters – to do any kinds of checks.

Which is not to say you still can’t get dinged by an impolitic Tweet or an injudicious wall post. 86 percent of employers thought candidates should do at least one thing to make their profiles more professional, including de-tagging pictures, omitting political or religious views, and deleting objectionable wall posts.

Aside from taking down those compromising pictures of you at last year’s Christmas party, what do experts recommend you do to avoid undermining your own search? According to resume site Resumark, posting resumes that don’t match up to the ones you show on LinkedIn, sharing unflattering information about companies you’ve interviewed with and not completing your professional profiles can all hurt your search. And of course, search yourself – that’s what employers will see. If you don’t like what you find, ask websites to remove information about you, start a website or blog to promote yourself and clean up that social networking site. Remember, no matter how private you think your settings are, there’s usually a way around.