Tuesday, November 8, 2011

You Are What You Tweet (Especially to Employers)

Sitting in the library considering the pros and cons of studying for tomorrow’s exam, you decide a more pressing matter is updating your Facebook status. Maybe you are the music-lyrics type or maybe bitch-and-moan is more your style, but either way, it’s more important than your exam. If you are one of the over 145 million people on Twitter, nothing is better than a tweet about your recent move to the library with the #collegeproblems hashtag. Oh, and you can now use that hashtag on Google+, so you share your predicament with over 10 million people there.
            What you may not be considering in this seemingly harmless rampage through the Internet is the effect it could have on your job search. Beware that a search engine’s usefulness can fuel your academic research just as well as it can fuel a potential employer’s research on you. In fact, while I went through the process of finding an intern to fill my position for the Fall semester, I used social media to get a better look at the applicants. Taking into account the type of company I was working at – no visible tattoos at the office – I had to eliminate two candidates before scheduling interviews. I also eliminated a candidate based on scantily clad photos posted to a public Twitter feed.
            A recent article on mediabistro.com cited a study by Reepler and Lab42, which talked to 300 random individuals involved in the hiring process of a company. “A massive 91% of the employers polled use social networking sites to screen prospective employees,” the article states. 69% of the people surveyed say they rejected a candidate due to things they saw on a social media platform.
            Don’t worry. All hope for your future career in the uptight, Gucci-wearing, office setting is not lost. 68% of people in the Reepler and Lab42 study say they have hired someone because of what they saw about them on social media sites. When asked why, they said the following: 39% thought it “gave a positive impression of their personality and organizational fit,” and 33% believed the profiles showed good communication skills.
Now is the time to start covering your bases. Don’t have a Linkedin account? Sign up. It is the social network for professionals and allows you to display your resume, recommendations and updates all in one location. Think your Facebook profile photo is giving off the college-party-kid vibe? Pick a simple headshot to replace it and then make your profile visible to friends only. Wondering whether the tweet you wrote in the 300’s field on Saturday is sending the right message? Start using your Twitter to boost your image by sharing articles of interest, communicating with people within your industry, and using proper grammar. Remember, you are what you tweet, so make yourself look good!
 An Op-Ed I recently submitted to the SMC Defender.

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