Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Reflection on employers use of social media

Employer’s Use of Social Networking Sites

Millions of people are, nowadays, using social networking sites to connect with others and employers are using these sites as a source of background information on job applicants. Employers report making decisions not to hire people based on the information posted on social networking sites.

Despite the infancy of social networking sites, surveys by various entities over the last few years have found a growing trend of employers conducting online checks using social networking sites for information on job applicants. An employer can type an applicant’s name into a search engine such as Google to see what he or she finds. Some social networking sites allow Internet search engines to search the names of its users and make public profiles available. Some employers have their own Facebook accounts and may be able to see more than the public profiles, depending on the friends-of-friends links and privacy settings. In this way, an employer can get a quick ‘‘character’’ picture of an applicant, depending on what is available online (Campbell cited in Clark and Robers, 2010).
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Business leaders are increasingly investing in internal social networking platforms to spur informal or casual employee learning, to communicate programs or policies, or to build a sense of community among virtual employees. Private, cloud-based networking services such as Yammer, Chatter or Jive are supplementing or replacing e-mail, intranet sites or wikis in some organizations. They give employees an outlet to make collaborative decisions across distances, to share lessons learned or simply to feel more connected to colleagues. Employers gauge value from these networks by measuring whether they are achieving faster organizational problem-solving, more-efficient communication or cost-effective learning. Interactions on these networks can also offer advantages of scale, because the solution to one person's problem is visible to many (Zielinski 2012).

But what actually bothers employers while looking at our social media profiles?

They want to see memberships in professional organizations. Volunteering and charity work also work positively in your favor. If you have blogs or find articles about the industry you’re trying to break into, those are great posts. Be wary when posting overtly political, religious, or sensitive issues- you don’t want to engage in debates or offend anyone. As a recruiter for a staffing firm, you want to make sure your candidates put their best food forward. Caution them to take full use of all privacy settings. All sensitive content or doubtful pictures should be removed or hidden from view. Make sure to review all your social media profiles periodically to ensure the content is appropriate and is an asset rather than a liability (click here for more info).

Indeed, 44% of recruiters said that trashing an employer on social media is enough to land an applicant in the reject pile, according to a Corporate Executive Board study, in 2012, of 215 recruiters. Just 26% said they view a résumé typo the same way. Inappropriate language was considered unforgivable by 30% of those surveyed; 17% looked at excessive personal information that way.

Companies are also using social media to pick up on more subtle clues about job applicants' work styles. Pete Maulik, chief strategy officer at Fahrenheit 212, a New York-based innovation consulting firm, says he was close to hiring an "excellent" candidate last year when he decided to check the man's LinkedIn profile as a final precaution. That's when he realized the candidate probably wasn't a team player, he says (The Wall Street Journal Online, 2012).

"He took credit for everything short of splitting the atom," Mr. Maulik says. "Everything was, 'I did this.' He seemed like a lone wolf. He did everything himself."
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Another promising job applicant used his Twitter account to disparage just about every new innovation in the marketplace, he recalls. "It became clear he was much more comfortable as the critic than the collaborative creator," Mr. Maulik says.
The company didn't hire either candidate, he says.
Likewise, ProProfs, a California firm that specializes in online testing tools, was close to signing on a freelance writer when a LinkedIn check showed the candidate was freelancing for another company, says CEO Sameer Bhatia. The candidate confessed to omitting that detail, saying the existing employer had demanded exclusivity (The Wall Street Journal Online, 2012).
"We saw this as a sign of dishonesty and lack of loyalty," Mr. Bhatia says, adding that the company didn't hire the writer.

While some employers may be willing to overlook the occasional rowdy photo or off-color tweet, it goes without saying that any post linking a job candidate to illicit activity such as drinking and driving or illegal drugs, or to racist or sexist behavior, won't go over well.
Surprisingly, some job seekers have yet to absorb that message, recruiters say.
Max Drucker, CEO of Social Intelligence Corp., which screens job applicants on behalf of companies, estimates that 5% to 10% of Internet background checks for clients turn up red flags, even though each job candidate must give consent in order to be screened. "You cannot believe the stuff we see," he says. "You'd be surprised how many people still keep their Facebook profiles public."
What are hiring managers looking for on social media?

Hiring managers are using social media to evaluate candidates’ character and personality outside the confines of the traditional interview process. When asked why they use social networks to conduct background research, hiring managers stated the following:
· To see if the candidate presents himself/herself professionally – 65 percent
· To see if the candidate is a good fit for the company culture – 51 percent
· To learn more about the candidate’s qualifications – 45 percent
· To see if the candidate is well-rounded – 35 percent
· To look for reasons not to hire the candidate – 12 percent

However, some companies are reluctant to add social-media checks to their hiring process, saying they believe the negatives outweigh the positives. "It's very difficult to defend yourself when you reject a candidate," says Neil Sims, a managing director at executive search firm Boyden.

By going online, employers expose themselves to all kinds of information that cannot be legally considered in the hiring process, such as religion, race, gender and health status, says Social Intelligence's Mr. Drucker. Some factors could sway the employer, even if only subconsciously. It might be difficult for an employer to hire a pregnant woman, for example, knowing that she might soon take maternity leave, he says (The Wall Street Journal Online, 2012).

Still, with so much information available online these days, when it comes to social media screening, "employers are damned if they do, damned if they don't," Mr. Drucker says.

It is my firm belief, that companies and employers should stop spying on employees' social media profiles, except those of course that have initially been created for job-seeking purposes  (e.g. LinkedIn, glassdoor on Facebook). The data that is uploaded to each user's profile concerns only the individual that has upload it and his so-called "virtual friends". However, since we are now seeing the age of Digital Information, meaning that online data can be viewed by millions at the same time, all social media users should make themselves comfortable with the creation of private profiles and limited profile viewing options. All profiles should be private and accessible only to each user's "friends". On the other hand, employees should understand that depending on their position within the company they have to act accordingly. For example, a Senior Marketing Manager in a multinational company, should try and adapt solemn profiles in most of his social media accounts, especially if it is accessible to his colleagues. 

To sum up, I believe that it is unfair for employees to be judged because of their digital profiles. Employers will continue to do so, so all users should seek information on how to create private profiles, implement different visibility settings on different friend groups and on how to use social media to their advantage by allowing employers see the information they want to see.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Using social media to strengthen your digital footprint

Why personal branding is important?

According to Olins (2003), a brand is:
"a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to a company, product or service."

Chris Brogan ( notes that a strong personal brand is a mix of reputation, trust, attention, and execution:

"A personal brand gives you the ability to stand out in a sea of similar products. In essence, you’re marketing yourself as something different than the rest of the pack."

According to Harries and Rae (2011) job seekers should:
1. remove pictures, content and links that can send the wrong message to potential
2. update social networking profiles regularly to highlight their latest accomplishments;
3. consider blocking comments to avoid questionable posts;
4. avoid joining groups whose names could turn off potential employers; and
5. consider setting their profile to private so only designated friends can view it.

The next question that someone can normally ask is the tools that a job-seeker can use in order to develop its personal brand. The most important ones are listed below:

  • A blog is different from a website because it is interactive, written in a ‘‘conversational voice’’ and frequently updated. It is potentially an effective form of viral marketing if others pass on or link back to the author’s posts in significant numbers. Blogs enable a personal brand to be enhanced by articulating knowledge on specialist matters pertaining to the industry concerned, and provide opportunities for the individual’s ‘‘story’’ to be told in a compelling and innovative way. A ‘‘network effect’’ can be created if other bloggers link to a post on the blog, or if comments are made on someone else’s blog, leading to an enhanced presence on major search engines over time. Seth Godin ( usefully describes blogs as ‘‘Google magnets’’ for this reason (Harris and Rae, 2011).
  • By actively updating a LinkedIn profile, the likelihood that people will see that profile displayed when they are searching the site for someone to hire or do business with is increased. The regular addition of new contacts and updating of profile content also adds to an individual’s ‘‘Google Juice’’, because LinkedIn allows profile information to be made available for search engines to index and the site is highly ranked by Google. To strengthen the visibility of a profile in search engines, use it in various places online. For example, when commenting on a blog, include a link to the LinkedIn profile in the signature, then if people like what has been said, they can click through to find out more. Rather than take a risk on a total stranger, most people prefer to work with people who their friends know and trust. In order to progress job applications to interview stage, a ‘‘complete’’ LinkedIn profile is now becoming a prerequisite for many recruiters in order to progress an application to the interview stage. A ‘‘complete’’ profile displays a minimum of three testimonials from past employers, and includes full details of the person’s employment, affiliations and educational background. Including appropriate keywords in the profile can also increase the chance of being found by recruiters who are searching for likely applicants in that area of interest (Harris and Rae, 2011).
  • Twitter is the service that allows people to keep abreast of trends and stay in touch with their contacts with a level of immediacy, regularity and intimacy that would be hard to replicate in the offline world. For employers, Twitter is another channel which connects current and potential employees with the business and helps to build loyalty. Effective Twitter usage necessarily involves an investment in time and attention so it is important to be selective in both the quality and quantity of people followed. In terms of building a personal brand, Twitter can help establish someone as a well connected, knowledgeable and approachable personality, and allow them to interact with other like-minded people, as well as keep them informed of specific job vacancies that may be flagged up by their contacts (Harris and Rae, 2011).

Facebook useful applications:
BranchOut is a Facebook app for career networking. Your LinkedIn profile can be imported to BranchOut, so you have a professional profile on Facebook. You can browse your friends on Facebook to see where they have worked. You can browse and share jobs that people within your career network have posted. If you're hiring, you can post jobs for free  ().
Business Cards 
Business Cards allows users to network better on Facebook. You can personalize your card and attach it to your Facebook messages. This application is much like the signature common in email messages. Users can enter information they want to appear on their virtual business card.
CareerBuilder Facebook App
Users can have updated job and internship postings delivered directly from CareerBuilder to their profiles. Information such as location and career interest is used to send you the most relevant job profiles. You can follow a link directly from the job listing to apply for it. Users have the option to search by keyword, location and category ().
Professional Profile
Similar to the standard Facebook profile, this app allows users to create a professional one, where they become part of a network. Users can post resumes and recommendations that they can import from Linkedin accounts. They can also browse other user profiles and see resumes that were made public. Users simply upload their resumes to begin using professional Profile.
My LinkedIn Profile
This application makes it easy to promote your LinkedIn account with a badge on your Facebook profile. Users insert their LinkedIn profiles hyperlink and Facebook takes care of the rest  ().

All in all the importance on strengthening our digital footprint can be summed up in this short video:

During this second activity of Leicester Award I have understood the importance of social media in job-seeking activities. What is more, I have learned that creating a strong digital footprint, that can provide basic information about myself to future employers can work to my advantage. I have decided to create and keep an updated LinkedIn profile and to keep most of my social media profiles private. What is more, I will keep writing on this blog even after finishing the Leicester Award in order to provide potential employers with information about my experiences, activities and latest accomplishments. The amount of employers currently using social media and the internet in order to get an idea about a potential employee is huge, so I should use it for my advantage.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Online Networking and Employability

Leicester Awards are an excellent way to define our key skills and strengths while allowing us to recognize their weaknesses and turn them to advantages.

But why have I chosen Leicester Award for Online Networking and Employability specially?

It is my firm belief that social media, IT and the internet in general can be used to strengthen our digital footprint and make us more easily approachable by future employers. What is more, by utilizing the web and social media will allow an individual to:

  • Chat with employers directly
  • Share the experiences of people who have been through the recruitment process
  • Gain commercial awareness
  • Job-hunt creatively
  • Develop an effective personal brand to promote yourself
According to the Guardian:

"Exposure and knowledge of technology and the internet is second nature to the current generation of graduates. Growing up with social media is a strong asset, compared to other generations who had to learn as it boomed. Use this point to your advantage in your CV and interview pitch. Increase your online presence: start a blog, get LinkedIn and keep up-to-date with the latest movements in your industry. Comment and interact to give yourself an online presence and a name to be remembered." (Guardian Careers - How the job market has changed over 2012 )

Going through Unit 1 I have managed to discover skills of mine and past experiences that I would have never thought that can be actually used in my CV.

I have identified my strengths and set targets to achieve in certain deadlines using the STAR technique:
  • Situation - what was the situation and when did it take place?
  • Task - what task was it, and what was the objective?
  • Action - what action did you take to achieve this?
  • Results - what happened as a result of your action?
which allowed me to link my skills with past experiences, something that will come handy in future job interviews.

While going  through Unit 2 I was able to understand that each social media has a different usage and how all them can be linked together to brand myself as a whole. I have learned about the seven key concepts to digital literacy that are vital to my good use of the internet and social media.  By using these concepts I will learn to use social media to it's full potential since there is more to it than just connecting with friends and family.
  • Changing - understand and adapt to new technologies for the purpose of career building.
  • Collecting - the ability to source, manage and retrieve career information and resources.
  • Critiquing - understand the nature of online career information and resources, and analysing usefulness for your career.
  • Connecting - build relationships and networks online that can support your career development.
  • Communicating interact effectively across a range of different platforms, to understand the genre and netiquette associated with different types of interaction and to use them appropriately within the context of career.
  • Creating - create online content that effectively represents you and your career online.
  • Curating – store and retrieve online information and mange your digital footprint and online networks to support your career.

    What is more, I created this specific blog in order to use it as a career development tool to reflect on my experiences and keep a log of my activities. Furthermore  I will be including direct links to my other social media profiles in order to expand my presence and create a complete profile of myself.

    Moreover, we will have the chance meet Graduate recruiter, Lee Clarke, from as he will be giving a webinar on how employers use social media to screen and select candidates. He will also be giving you tips on how to use social media to search for jobs. 

    All in all, by the end of this course, I be able to:
    • Recognize the importance of social media for self-promotion.
    • Have knowledge of the different networking tools available and how to use them.
    • Achieve career development and networking objectives through the use of social media.
    • Demonstrate the ability to reflect critically on skills acquired/developed and how these relate specifically to employability.
    • Be able to present ideas and information to a specified brief and audience