Before going on a job interview, spending some time to Google the company you’re applying to is key to increasing your chances of getting hired and helping you decide whether it’s a good cultural fit for you or not. And as you do your own research, the same goes with recruiters too!
Over the past decade, it’s apparent how most of us have built our lives over the internet. We socialize, interact, and communicate within this sphere. So, it’s not hard to believe that 80 percent of employers actually search you on Google as a part of their screening and interview techniques.
Why do they Google you?
Now more than ever, recruiters value transparency when it comes to hiring candidates. On that note, it is important to maintain a clean and honest online presence. Employers do not Google possible candidates just to find and pinpoint flaws. Instead, they want to get to know who they might be hiring on a deeper level.
A study done by JobVite found out that 77 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to screen and profile candidates. It is then followed by Facebook with 63 percent, and Instagram with 25 percent.
Googling candidates is another method done by recruiters at their discretion in order to have a better selection of candidates for the interview. Employers will take the opportunity to explore your online profile because it is also the quickest way to size you up. That’s why in today’s digital world, building a clear and captivating online presence is as important as writing an effective resume.
So, what do they want to see on Google?
Employers who use social networking sites to screen their candidates expect them to have an online presence. They want to verify the information sent by the applicants, including their job qualifications, work experience, and character.
To make sure your online identity impresses your recruiter, take into consideration this list of things they want to see when they Google you.
You might think that this is just something silly, however, photographs of yourself on your social media accounts are crucial for employers in evaluating you. At the very least, employers would want to know what their applicants look like. You can consider it as your first impression, which means you would want to make it as pleasing as possible.
Employers actually spend an average of six seconds looking at your social media profile, especially on LinkedIn. Interestingly, nineteen percent of that time is spent looking at just your picture. Researchers from Princeton have also found that you form your first impressions through your profile picture within 1/10 of a second.
So, here’s a piece of advice: Make sure you have a professional photo of yourself on your online profiles. It does not have to be taken by a professional photographer, but consider having yourself in professional attire and with good lighting. This is especially important in LinkedIn, in recruitment pages, and even on Facebook. Ninety-six percent of recruiters refer to LinkedIn profiles when searching for the right candidate, according to Glassdoor.
In contrast, an unprofessional photo indicates your inability to separate your personal and professional personas. Unbecoming photos invite employers to see you as unfit for their company. If you don’t take the time to choose your profile picture, say, in LinkedIn, recruiters would worry about how you will act toward your colleagues and in front of their clients.
As the old adage goes, if you want the job, you have to dress and look the part. And this is true for both your offline and online presence. They take note of what you are wearing, where you are, and how you present yourself.
Employers want to search for your proven work. They want to find out if your accomplishments can be found online. Creating an online portfolio is a way to showcase what you write down on your resumé. It is one of the greatest ways of proving credibility as an applicant.
A portfolio shows employers a better idea of who you are, what you can do, what you intend to accomplish, and what you could offer the company once you get hired. It is a huge bonus if employers can find your work immediately online, with your credentials easily found in one space.
Having a personal website complete with a professional photo of yourself, an explanation of who you are, a CV, reference letters, and your accomplishments is a great way to exhibit your talent and potential.
This shows employers that you are an expert in the job you are vying for. And while it is good to display your hard work, remember to keep it authentic. Do not try to oversell yourself by showing something you did not really work on. Employers bank on transparency and honesty as much as your triumphs. Make it stand out and make yourself stand out!
Your Digital Footprint:
How do you use the latest networking sites? About 44% of hiring managers look into a candidate’s creativity. This means the way you utilize your social media can say a lot about how sociable and tech-savvy you are. Innovativeness and originality play a big role in convincing employers that you are a worthy fit in their company.
The three main platforms that employers are likely to check are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. A LinkedIn profile is most especially relevant, and it’s easy to see why: it serves as a secondary resume where you put your professional background. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on the other hand are more personal. While LinkedIn is usually used to verify your qualifications, other social media accounts provide a more personal and in-depth review of the candidate. Rather than gathering damaging information, employers are here to get a sense of your overall personality.
Ultimately, recruiters want to know how you present yourself on the internet. They want to see your involvement in business networks, NGOs, success at work, and your college or sports field. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for you to show your hobbies and personal interests that complement your professional presentation.
This is why it’s best to use the limited bio space in your social media accounts. They play a big role in attracting the attention of recruiters. Within the limited space, you can express your personality, hobbies, interests, skills, and what you can offer to your future employers. It should be like a summary of your resume and more. It needs to be conversational and should provide essential details about you.
All in all, different social media networks should cater to different kinds of profiles, from professional to less formal. However, remember that you have to be critical of the language you use. Employers pay attention to even the smallest details.
That said, do not be tempted to delete or hide your social media accounts. Having no digital footprint at all can be a bit of a red flag. Keep in mind, however, that a messy online footprint can cause you to get disqualified for a job. The bottom line: It pays to clean your online space before sending your resume to recruiters.
From the perspective of employers, tracing your digital footprint helps them protect the company’s image and reputation. Recruiters want to see a consistent and professional presentation of you across social media. They want to see that you have taken the time to think about how you present yourself online. Employers can interpret discrepancies between online and offline presence as potential deception.
Character, Personality, and Behavior:
As has been mentioned time and time again, recruiters Google candidates for the purpose of getting to know them better. This helps them assess one’s personality and behavior. They often check whether you have a habit of bad-mouthing previous employers or coworkers. They also look at the content you create and share.
Knowing whether your character will fit in with their culture is one of the major qualifiers. Employers want likable personalities to be part of the workplace. They want people who are confident and professional online as they are in real life. They want people who can communicate well in such a way that shows one’s stability, curiosity, creativity, reliability, and friendliness.
Recruiters also check the kind of followers you attract; they are curious about how you influence and impact the people around you. Are you friendly and sociable with your friends and followers? How do you engage and respond to them? This is actually a big deal as this gives them insight into your personal relationships and how you build rapport with people. They gauge how well a candidate can work with others.
Posts reflecting your thoughts and opinions are also significant to employers. They check if their potential hires say bad things about their previous employers and colleagues. They also want to know how you view things around you. While you are definitely entitled to your own thoughts and opinions, employers have the prerogative to make value judgments solely based on what they see out there.
Keep in mind that bad behavior is detrimental not only to you as a candidate, but to the company that is considering you as part of their team. This is why they make sure you are trustworthy and reliable. Recruiters don’t want someone who is immature, difficult, and not a team player.
Aside from that, they also want to see if your personal values align with their organizational values. Recruiters look for people who show respect for their work, and those who can draw a clear line between their personal and professional lives.
Now, what do they not want to see?
Recruiters look for both negative and positive content about job candidates on Google, so be sure to tread lightly on the negative side. One slip on your online identity can make a very bad first impression on the company and can ultimately ruin your chances of being hired even before you step in the front door.
Partying and Addiction:
As we’ve said, your online behavior says a lot about you. It is a far more in-depth screening than a simple questionnaire and interview have done face-to-face. Forty-two percent of employers have said that they usually changed their minds about hiring someone based on evidence they found online. For instance, while partying behaviors are not qualifiers for a job, posting it online and boasting about it can demonstrate your personal branding, and this is not the message you want recruiters to perceive about you.
In addition, according to the JobVite survey, 58 percent of recruiters review social media posts for references to marijuana; 47 percent check for political rants; 43 percent pay attention to spelling and grammar mistakes, and 42 percent look for pictures of alcohol consumption.
Poor Communication Skills:
Interestingly, there is not a huge gap between employers who pay attention to candidates who display poor grammar and spelling online and candidates who post pictures of them drinking alcohol. Why? Because if you’ve put a premium on communication skills on your resume, recruiters and employers will check to see if these are supported by your online activity. What do you post and share? Do you write articulately and intelligently? Or are you aggressive and foul-mouthed online? Additionally, recruiters verify your educational background, experiences, and affiliations online and check if it matches what you have written on your resume.
Employers resort to scouring the internet to look for reasons to hire a candidate. These social screenings are in place to gather the information that supports a candidate’s resume and cover letter. More than that, this helps ensure that a candidate has a professional persona online and in real life. Managers have found that doing so pays off in the long run, with 37% of recruiters finding information that validates professional qualifications. While 34% were able to identify a candidate’s creativity, and 33% were impressed by the professional image that candidates have built up. This is one of the best ways to do a background check on your potential hires.
Social Media Red Flags
It is a red flag for recruiters if they can’t find a trace of you online. While inappropriate posts are a major turn-off for employers, inactivity is just as bad. A poorly presented or mismanaged LinkedIn profile can also have a negative impact on your chances of getting the job. Hence, simply singing up is not going to cut it. Passivity in social media shows disengagement with your audience. It says that you either have something to hide or nothing to show for. This can put your resume to the bottom of the list or be disqualified.
As much as possible, take the opportunity to exhibit your ability to build a network. Your activeness online is a great way for you to showcase your engagement to others and have other people curate the content you are sharing. Commit to your online branding even if it means just reposting or sharing something a few times a week especially on Instagram and Twitter.
Protecting your privacy is of course a given. Learn to maneuver the changes in the privacy settings of your social media accounts. Keep yourself abreast of revisions in the privacy policies of social networking sites. These will help you determine which posts are searchable on your profile and which ones you can restrict to more personal settings.
Inappropriate and Inconsistent Content:
Another thing to be wary of is sharing and posting content. They generally appear harmless, perhaps because it’s just a joke for you and your friends. However small and un seeming to you, they can be detrimental to how employers view you. Filter your images and posts because they are representations of who you are. Filter tagged posts too and sift through which ones are public and private.
It is also important to make sure that your name and profiles are consistent from one account to another. While Facebook lets you choose a nickname or account name, it is common sense to standard making use of your real name for professional purposes. Aside from that, check the details you previously put in various profiles. Accomplishments, interests, and prior experiences should be similar. Linking your social networks together is also a plus.
Remember that in this day and age, what you post reveals a lot about who you are. These things can make or break your career and can cause you everything you worked hard for. Even big names come crashing down over a few tweets posted several years ago.
And don’t forget to express yourself on all your media platforms! Being proactive in your own social networks, blogs or websites will show employers your expertise and viewpoints so they can evaluate you in a positive light.
Building credibility and a solid reputation is no easy feat. A huge part of it hinges on the experiences and qualifications written on your resume. However, these days, your online presence has become as important as your resume.
Employers want to verify your authenticity and how you present yourself. They are searching for qualities that will fit the company’s culture and your job description. They are looking for pivotal things that would shed light on your strengths and weaknesses. So, the next time you Google yourself and you see something you would not boast about in a job interview, it may be the perfect time to think about cleaning your digital tracks.
Pearl is a content writer from Deploy Yourself who’s especially passionate about assisting Sumit in helping him coach leaders and individuals to pursue their wildest dreams and reach their highest potential. She also loves sharing leadership stories, entrepreneurship journeys, and digital marketing tips and tricks. When she’s not writing interesting blog pieces on the web, you can find her binge-watching crime stories on Netflix.
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