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The perils of social networks

In a recent article, Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology, at Lancaster University Management School, looked at the increased ability of recruiters to conduct online searches on potential candidates, before offering an interview.

They may be looking for examples of work or sporting success, but perhaps they could be looking for something to trip a candidate up; a dodgy entry on Facebook, or an incautious tweet.

Luci Baldwin, IPC recruitment manager, says constructive and positive statements will help a candidate; “Evidence of involvement in community activities, a presence on a business network, like LinkedIn, anything that shows good communication skills, are attributes we look for.”

Baldwin says: “Written material should be positive and error-free. Anything constructive and memorable can go a long way to supporting an individual application.”

Rod Bailey, CEO of ExecutiveSurf, says how you portray yourself on social networks is of great imortance. “I’d estimate one in ten jobs currently come from LinkedIn, and many companies use it as their sole source.”

So what about the bad stuff? Shuvo Loha, director of Janikin Rooke, says: “It would worry me to find negative remarks about a person, or from them. So much that we do is documented somewhere online, so people have to be very careful.”

“What seemed a funny photo at university, could end up costing you a job or an interview, without you ever knowing. Evidence of a negative or bad attitude, revealed through complaining or ranting, would put me off, as would anything that suggests a candidate is intolerant or extreme in opinion.”

Bad-mouthing others, particularly employers, is not going to go down well, nor is anything too self-promotional. Good employers, like good candidates, do their research and in a survey, conducted by ExecuNet, 77% of recruiters said they used search engines to investigate candidates.

Over a third said they had rejected candidates because of what they found online. Interestingly, 82% of job seekers expected employers to research them, but only 33% bothered to check what employers would find out about them on various sites.

Circumspection should be the keyword to your internet contributions and it is definitely important to work out what might come up in an interview as a result of your postings.

Cooper tells of one candidate, facing a panel of senior executives. The CEO started the interview by saying; “Yes, you are stunningly gorgeous.” The candidate was stunned and did not know how to respond; the interview went from bad to worse.

The CEO had done a search on the candidate and found a Facebook page, in which the candidate had declared himself, “stunningly gorgeous”. A bit of diligence, and the embarrassing situation could have been avoided.

Nigel Phillips

A legal view: http://www.hrlaw.co.uk/site/toptips/facebook_and_social_networking_sites_at_work

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