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by Vault Careers | June 22, 2011


Posting racy photos and controversial remarks won’t get you as much press as Anthony Weiner’s display of his political briefs, but they can cost you in your job search. This has been a constant warning to job applicants, but the threat is more real than ever now that the Federal Trade Commission has allowed Social Intelligence Corp. to perform background checks on the Internet activity of jobseekers. This means that your entire online history is fair game…even if you think they are private.

A recent survey performed by showed that while 93% of employers claim they haven’t rejected a candidate based on their social media presence, more than a third of recruiters do examine the social networks of applicants. That number is probably higher than they would like to admit and will be even more so now that there are companies out there willing to do the work for them. So what’s a jobseeker to do?

1. Stop trusting privacy settings. Privacy settings are not 100% reliable. If someone wants to find information out about you, they will. The fact that you tried to make it private won’t stop them from using that information against you. The less you trust a privacy setting, the more you might stop posting objectionable content.

2. Maintain a professional image. According to the Vault survey, 60% of recruiters think candidates should take steps to hide their personal pictures and only 51% of jobseekers say they actually do. But why post them in the first place? Pictures of you drinking, dressed scantily clothed and even that fun shot of you holding a sword could make you a risk in a recruiter’s eyes, no matter how cool you look in your friends’ eyes. The truth is; you don’t look cool without a job, so stop sabotaging your search.

3. Your friends are hurting your career. It only takes one friend tagging a photo of you looking intoxicated to ruin your chances at getting a job. Recruiters will see these pictures. Ask your friends not to tag you in photos and be vigilant and de-tag photos you find objectionable.

4. Keep your religious and political views to yourself. Before social media, it has been said to never discuss religion or politics with friends. Follow that philosophy online.

5. Think of social media as your resume. You know you work hard. You know you always get the job done. Recruiters don’t. Put yourself in their shoes and make sure your online presence represents the type of person you would hire for a job.

--Jon Minners,


Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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