Anyone who is looking for a job already faces a tough battle. However, it’s growing even tougher as data mining advancements create a side to employer evaluations that are tough for job candidates to predict.
You already know that saying the wrong things on social channels can be detrimental to your job search. You’ve learned to get rid of drunken photos, flame wars, and gripes about your former employer.
But now, even the most innocuous social media presence can hurt you in unpredictable ways. A recent B2C article explains how.
Dozens of companies now mine social media data in much the same way the NSA does. In minutes they can locate, analyze, and report on the same information as credit reporting companies, except for your social security number and financial information. They can identify your friends and social circle and run instant reports on them. They obtain all of the addresses where you have lived, all your employers, any misdemeanors or other legal issues, and can create graphs of where, how, and with who you socialize, forming a complete composite of your relationships.
…If you are being considered for a job, a promotion to a very high-visibility position,…being reviewed by a co-op board on private institution, or one of many other situations, such a search can be done in minutes.
Given this brave new world, how can the average job seeker present the best possible face to potential employers?
Keep Social Profiles Professional
Staying off of social media is out of the question. Those profiles are too useful to job hunters to be abandoned entirely.
However, it may be time to abandon social profiles as a medium for communicating with family and friends. E-mail is more personal, and it doesn’t offer potential employers the same level of insight into your life.
If you absolutely can’t live without the “social side” of social media, try connecting with friends under a pseudonym and avoid populating those accounts with any information that could link them back to you. Otherwise, your best friend’s 1992 arrest and publicized online mugshot could impact your career.
Stop Checking In
If you don’t want employers to know what you’re doing in your off hours then you need to be wary of social media sites that let you “check in” to businesses that you frequent. Even if you’re not ashamed of where you’re going there’s no reason to give employers or anyone else more information than they need about what you’re doing in your off time or who you’re doing it with.
Be Security Conscious
It makes no sense to go through the effort of scrubbing your social profile just to let a hacker wreck things for you. Make sure you choose strong passwords containing letters, symbols, and numbers. And don’t open any e-mails that you don’t recognize. A few spam links could throw off a data mining program’s assessment of you in no time.
The Bottom Line
Your best shot at protecting your reputation is to start treating the Internet like a sort of never-ending trade show and job fair instead of as a play space. Like it or not, your off-time is no longer off-limits to employers, and limiting what you choose to share with them is the key to protecting your career.