In 2011, Reppler surveyed more than 300 hiring professionals to learn how recruiters screen job candidates online. 91 percent claimed they have visited a candidate’s social networking profile as part of the screening process, and 69 percent have rejected a candidate based on what they found.
Most job seekers are aware of the obvious things that would turn off an employer, like inappropriate photos or bad-mouth comments about a colleague or former boss. But there are some other, more subtle things employers might notice about your online presence that could work against you in the eyes of a recruiter or hiring manager.
1. Polarizing Email Signatures
Maybe it's an inspirational quote, an emoticon, or a link to your personal blog. Whatever you've included in your email signature, chances are the employer you're communicating with is going to notice it.
“We all have the right to do and say what we want. However, not everyone shares your same religious or political affiliation,” says Jamie Lembeck of Knowledge Banc, LLC. “Think about it and the potential repercussions that it may cause by what you say or write.”
2. Fishy LinkedIn Recommendations
There’s no hard and fast rule for how many LinkedIn recommendations you should have, or if you need to have any at all. But showing a disproportionate amount of recommendations compared to the number of positions you've held could raise some eyebrows. The recommendations you show should complement the experience detailed in your profile. Hide ones that don’t add value.
Job seekers should also be wary of having too many reciprocal recommendations. If a candidate has too many endorsements from connections who he or she has recommended as well, it could be a red flag, warns Shlok Vaidya, an Austin-based technology entrepreneur.
3. Friends, Followers and Connections That Don't Line Up
Who you engage with–or don’t engage with–on social media sites can be revealing. It’s bad if you’re engaged with too many controversial or spammy accounts. At the same time, a hiring manager could also be surprised to find too few connections that are relevant to the industry in which you work.
"A leader with a long history at a company but few LinkedIn connections within their current position could be a red flag. A sales and marketing person who doesn't follow customers on a professional Twitter account is a red flag too,” says small business owner Vineet Vashashta.
Review your LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends and accounts you follow on Twitter to determine if the hiring manager would be put off by any of the businesses or people you engage with online.
4. Inconsistent and Out-of-Date Profile Info
According to Lembeck, inconsistencies between paper resumes, LinkedIn profiles and experience outlined on other social networking sites are common red flags for recruiters. So are sites or profiles that have been neglected for some time.
“Empty or abandoned profiles look bad,” adds Blair Fleming of Seven Step RPO. “They show that a candidate is not that engaged in their online presentation or not savvy enough to use it as an opportunity to sell their experience and expertise.”
Update all sites associated with your personal brand to include your latest work experience and contact information. Also re-direct old blogs or websites you own to newer sites if you have them.
5. Unflattering Posts on Others’ Sites
Every time you post to a website, blog or forum, you’re leaving a mark on the Internet. Search engines may index what you’ve published, making your post or comment (no matter how negative or positive) accessible indefinitely.
Make sure the sites you engage with align with the way you’re trying to portray yourself to a potential employer. Not everything you post online is going to be job-related, but think twice before you post something you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. You might not be able to delete it later.
How you represent yourself online says a lot about you–but it’s also an indication of how you would potentially represent an employer, perform your job, or interact with customers. If nothing else, take a few minutes to Google yourself to be aware of what employers might find, and address whatever you can. It’s time well spent.
Thumbnail image by Franco Bouly