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Social Networking Can Get You Hired or Fired

Social networking, that is, posting your profile and participating on sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, has had a significant impact on work and job searching. This impact has been the focus of many recent studies that yielded two interesting findings:

(1) Employers are about as likely to hire you for having good online information as they are to reject you for having bad info.

A CareerBuilder survey found that, among employers that use social networking sites to research job candidates, 53% rejected qualified candidates because they posted inappropriate photos or information on their profiles. Meanwhile, 50% of those employers said they hired job seekers because their online profiles provided a "good feel" for their personalities and how the candidates would fit in with the rest of the company.

Another interesting observation was that employers are more likely to look you up on Facebook than on LinkedIn, even though the latter is more career-related.

Lesson: We've said it before but it bears repeating: Don't put anything online that would undermine your chances of getting hired. If you have anything remotely embarrassing on the web that could be found through a simple Google search, you should adjust your privacy settings so that only people you consider friends can view it.

(2) Your bosses might prefer it if you didn't friend them on Facebook.

About 48% of executives in an OfficeTeam survey said they were uncomfortable with being friended by people they manage, while slightly less — 44 % — are OK with it.

Lesson: Think twice about friending your boss. If you have a casual and comfortable relationship with him or her at work, it may seem fine. But work relationships can change over time, and your other friends may post information or photos that don't fit your professional image. If you opt to friend them, take this advice from the executive director at OfficeTeam: "Individuals should classify their professional contacts into a 'work' list and limit what personal details this group can view." This is especially important if you log in at work. Your status update of "OMG this project blows, I hate this job," combined with your high-score game rankings and quiz results time stamped at 2:52 pm, are dead giveaways that you're wasting company time and spreading negative messages about your employer.

The social networking explosion holds enormous potential for building, enhancing, and advancing your personal brand and career. But be aware that the deeper your involvement, the greater your risk for damage. Use it, but don't lose control over it.

Has social networking helped you get a job or prevented you from landing one? Share your experiences.

RELATED LINKS

Have Employers Ruined Facebook?
What the Heck is "Networking" and How Do I Do It?
Build Your Network and Uncover the Hidden Job Market
5 Ways to Cover Your Web Tracks

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