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Career Suicide By Social Media

How social media can wreak havoc on your career

13541175_sTo a great extent, you are who the Internet says you are. Your online presence is your virtual calling card, particularly, when it comes to your career.  Ignore it at your own peril.

Gilbert Gottfried made national headlines when he was fired as the voice of the Aflac duck in 2011 after Tweeting “jokes” related to the recent tsunami in Japan.  Although, the jokes were not out of line with the comic’s persona many found them distasteful and the comedian was canned.  Recently, Essence Magazine’s managing editor, Michael Bullerdick was fired after his employer discovered extremist Right-wing views his Facebook page.

An online error cost one Connecticut man a six-figure salary when the Windsor Locks Board of Education forced school superintendent David Telesca to resign because of posts on his Facebook page.  One of the things Telesca posted was that he had slept in until 10 a.m. on his first day on the job.  While his Facebook friends were probably amused his employer was not.

Monitoring your online presence and cleaning up your digital dirt is even more critical when you’re looking for a new opportunity.  In today’s competitive market, you need every advantage you can get. You don’t want to give recruiters and hiring managers any reason to cut you from the competition.

To quote Dick Bolles of What Color is Your Parachute fame ‘Your Google results are your new resume.’  Just as having any negative or unflattering information about you online will lead to your elimination, having no information can do just as much damage,” cautions , Donna Sweidan, speaker, social media expert and founder of Careerfolk.

Not having an online presence is damaging for two reasons. First, you are invisible to recruiters who are searching online for candidates so you will miss opportunities. Second, if your resume manages to get a recruiters attention, but they can’t find you online it will raise some red flags. They may think that you’re not serious enough about finding a new position or worse you may be considered “dated” which can be deadly if you’re over 40.

If you don’t think recruiters don’t put much stock in what they find out about you online, think again. Eighty-percent of respondents to our recent recruiter survey say they research candidates online to both, find and eliminate them as potential candidates for a job. An overwhelming number (90%) say a candidate’s online profile at least somewhat influences the decision to interview (47.5% say a lot, 42%% say somewhat). Which means even if your resume manages to stand out amid a thousand other candidates, your online presence can cost you that coveted interview.

Even once you’ve made it through three rounds of interviews something negative in your online profile can keep you from getting hired. Seventy-two percent of those same survey respondents say what they learn about you online can even influence the decision to hire (15% say a lot, 42%% say somewhat).

“Recruiters are not online looking for ‘digital dirt’ only to disqualify candidates; they want to ensure great hires,” said Robyn Greenspan, Editor-in-Chief at ExecuNet, an executive leadership network that pioneered research in early 2005 about digital identity optimization. “Candidates can improve their chances of being hired by enhancing their positive search results. Great examples of controllable digital reputation elevation and negative suppression techniques are: publishing articles that demonstrate your subject matter expertise; having a profile that shows connections to top leaders; being mentioned in press releases; and contributing to thought leadership blogs or discussions.”

Ready to get started?

If you’re not on LinkedIn set up a profile today. Once you’ve got the basics read Make Your LinkedIn Profile Work for You by Chris Brogan, New York Times bestselling author, which goes beyond the basics of setting up your LinkedIn profile.

When you’re ready to move beyond LinkedIn check out  10 Smart Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search from USNews. This slideshow provides information on how to use several social media platforms. If you’d like something even more visual check out Using Social Media To Find A Job [INFOGRAPHIC].

Blogging is another way to make a name for yourself in your industry. But, blogging isn’t easy  It probably won’t help you get a job quickly and it requires commitment.  For some ideas read How A Blog Can Help Your Job Search on glassdoor.com.

Today it’s essential to develop and monitor your social media presence – if for no other reason than to avoid committing career suicide by social media. Indiscreet remarks on your Facebook page can derail your career in an instant. Not having an online presence can render you invisible or worse make you look old and dated.  So start today. Make sure that your social media presence will have recruiters and hiring managers talking about you in a good way.


About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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