We’ve all seen the news – “Joe Blow was fired today for posting a picture on Facebook”, and “MaryLou Anyname was suspended from school for badmouthing her teacher on Facebook”. We’ve all heard the advice, “be careful what you post on the Internet”. We’ve all laughed at the most egregious examples of poor judgment (see “Facebook Reveals Husband’s Second Wife” or “Wife Killed Over Facebook Post?” for some sadder accounts of anti-social media).
We have heard that employers are potentially looking at Social Media to disqualify candidates, but what exactly are they looking at, looking for, and doing about what they find?
Reppler.com sampled 300 hiring managers and put together a very telling graphic, showing specifically what they do on Social Networking sites – which sites, what they look for, and what they do about what they find.
91% of these hiring managers say they use social networking sites to screen prospective employees – 76% check Facebook, 53% check Twitter and 48% check LinkedIn. They are checking at all phases of the hiring process too, with 47% checking after receiving an application, 27% checking after an initial conversation with the prospect, 15% after detailed conversations with the prospect, and 4% right before making an offer.
Okay fine, we now know where and when, but what are they doing with this information?
According to Reppler, 69% of those surveyed have rejected a candidate because of what they saw about them on a social networking site, while 68% say they have hired candidates because of what they saw about them on a social networking site.
Some of the big red flags they have found?
- · 13% – Lied about their qualifications
- · 11% – Posted inappropriate photos
- · 11% – Posted inappropriate comments
- · 11% – Posted negative comments about a previous employer
- · 11% – Demonstrated poor communication skills
- · 10% – Made discriminatory comments
- · 10% – Posted content about them using drugs
- · 9% – Posted content about them drinking
- · 7% – Shared confidential information from a previous employer
Some of the positives?
- · 39% – Gave a positive impression of their personality and organizational fit
- · 36% – Profile supported their professional qualifications
- · 36% – Profile showed candidate was creative
- · 34% – Candidate had good references posted by others
- · 33% – Showed solid communication skills
- · 33% – Profile showed candidate was well-rounded
- · 24% – Candidate received awards and accolades
What does LinkedIn itself have to say about this? The professional social network performed their own survey of 7,000 professionals, 84% of whom believe that luck plays at least some part in a successful career.
Lucky breaks might be considered a tip on a new job, a chance meeting with a prospect, or overhearing confidential information somewhere such as a coffee shop. But while LinkedIn’s constituents overwhelmingly think that luck plays at least a small part in success, they pretty much also agreed that you need to make your own luck.
Although the exact order of importance varied between men and women, both genders agreed that the top five factors contributing to career luck are:
- · Having a strong work ethic
- · Having strong communication skills
- · Acting on opportunities
- · Being flexible
- · Striving to be the best at what you do
So while they do believe luck is involved, they also believe that people who position themselves right will find that luck coming their way.
And there are ways to maximize on that luck. Job consultants compiled a list of (somewhat) unique ways to maximize one’s free subscription with LinkedIn:
- · Include all potential mis-spellings of your name in the Summary field of your profile.
- · Get recommended – it helps to recommend others, too.
- · Use the toolbars.
- · Write a compelling headline.
- · List everything – not only for the reasons the article suggests, but because recruiters doing power searches will find you more easily.
- · Replace your business cards.
- · Perform automated searches.
- · Viewing others’ profiles publicly vs privately.
- · Don’t treat it like Facebook.
- · Build your network. Now.
But being connected to social media has its drawbacks too. According to CNN Money, hacking incidents using the professional social networking tool are on the increase. They report one interview with Ryan O’Horo, self-proclaimed “hacker-for-hire”, discussed what he has done on LinkedIn.
“O’Horo created a fake account on LinkedIn, posing as a company employee. He stocked the profile with realistic details — a plausible job history and skill set — plus a few credibility-establishing flourishes like a membership in a local hockey league. From his dummy account, O’Horo sent out 300 connection requests to current company employees. Sixty-six were accepted.
Next, O’Horo requested access to a private LinkedIn discussion forum the company’s employees had created. The group’s moderators granted his request without ever checking a company directory to confirm his identity.
“Now I had an audience of 1,000 company employees,” O’Horo said. “I posted a link to the group wall that purported to be a beta test sign-up page for a new project. In two days, I got 87 hits — 40% from inside the corporate network.”
O’Horo got caught just three days into his LinkedIn attack: An astute employee figured out he didn’t belong and blew the whistle. But he’d already made his point.
“They were definitely surprised that the group existed,” O’Horo said of his client’s response to his report. “It wasn’t a formal company group; there was no oversight or policy covering that aspect of their social presence. The people in charge of their information security didn’t know it was there.””
And hacking can be even simpler, yet more insidious. Just knowing the names of a target’s colleagues can spawn fake emails, much more likely to be opened by the prey in phishing attacks. Corporate hierarchies and infrastructure often are much more open on LinkedIn than their management might prefer, and it is not hard to find inside information being shared publicly on the site.
“Hackers go where people go,” says Rachwald, the director of security strategy for software firm Imperva. “As Facebook grew, they went there. As LinkedIn grows, they’re going there.”
So whether you are trying to promote yourself, connect yourself or protect yourself, think carefully about how you are using social media, because it will affect your professional status.