| Job hunting is a two-way street. While you're researching potential employers and learning all you can about the hiring managers who'll be interviewing you, they're checking you out, too.
According to CareerBuilder's 2016 social media recruitment survey, 60 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, up from 11 percent a decade ago, when the survey was first conducted.
"Tools such as Facebook and Twitter enable employers to get a glimpse of who candidates are outside the confines of a résumé or cover letter," points out Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder.
And employers put stock in what they find — or don't. More than 2 in 5 employers said they are less likely to interview job candidates if they're unable to find information about the person online. And nearly half of hiring managers who screen candidates via social networks said they've found information that caused them not to hire a person, according to the CareerBuilder survey.
So have you paid the proper attention to your online reputation? Simply put, if you're looking for a job, you ignore the digital "you" at your peril.
Invisibility indicates that you're not up to speed with technology and the online world. And digital dirt, well, that can really give the wrong impression. The biggest turnoffs that CareerBuilder cited were inappropriate photographs or videos; signs that the candidate is binge drinking or using drugs; bigoted comments related to race, religion or gender; bad-mouthing of previous employers or fellow employees; and poor communication skills.
So to put your best foot forward online, here are five things you need to do.
1. Know your digital identity.
Chances are it's pretty complex. Some of it you create — at a minimum you should have pages on LinkedIn and Facebook. Some of it is created by your friends when they post comments and photos you're in. And some of it is created by total strangers — the staff at schools you attended, the DMV, former workplaces, the local newspaper, etc.
Your first task is to know what's out there. So do what employers do when they begin researching you online. Conduct a basic search of your name and its variations, such as with and without your middle name or initial. If your name is not unusual, you may get mainly material about other people who share it. So be creative in drilling down to material about yourself — try your name plus your school or hometown or last employer.
When you've narrowed things down, click on the top 10 to 20 links. Read carefully. You're looking at what a prospective employer can see.
Now, some of the other people who popped up during your search may seem to an employer to be you. "Pay attention to avoid a mistaken online identity," says Susan P. Joyce, an online job search expert. "Your reputation and job search can be damaged by that person."