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Social Media and Your Job Search: Tread Carefully

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Today it seems that everyone from your 10-year-old nephew to your Great Grandmother Mildred has at least a Facebook account filled to the brim with information that you may or may not want them, or other people divulging to everyone, which includes the same hiring manager you sent your last resume to. Now it’s just much easier for prospective employers to Google your name and find out information about you, your family and your habits. So, what’s the best site and the best methods to keep your personal information private?

With the vast resources of personal data so readily available through social networking sites, it is very tempting for recruiters, HR managers and even yourself, to use these methods to screen prospective employees or to just find out information about an old friend. A large percentage of company hiring representatives will look at an applicants’ online profile. Reviewing a candidate's social networking site can help companies know more about how those candidates handle themselves, both personally and professionally. It can also provide information that is illegal to ask during interviews.

It’s true that in today’s world you have to be online in order to get noticed, but what sites are the best for keeping your personal information private, while still giving you a measure of freedom online? The most well known sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Myspace all have their ups and downs. Myspace has virtually vanished as a peer-to-peer social media information site in favor of it’s traditional focus as being a music house for artist. Facebook has it’s many detractors thanks to gaping security holes and the ability to gleam information quickly and easily, even after that information has been deleted. Twitter didn't used to carry the same weight as the other sites, but it’s good for quick burst of information and many job seekers have started sharing professional information on the site. LinkedIn is the site that many professionals think of when they are looking for another job. People post links to jobs, information about their companies and things they are looking for. If you stay diligent and connect with people in your industry, there is no way that LinkedIn would not benefit you.

It also presents an ethical conundrum. What if an HR manager stumbles upon your Facebook page with pictures from a wild party or of your growing baby belly? Would they be more or less inclined to hire you based on what they determine online? Many employers feel that it is ethical and smart to collect information from an applicant's social media profiles.

Do you know what that means? It means you have to stay up on what you have posted online and watch anything that could prevent you from finding that job. Make sure that you pick the right social media site and use it properly. Understand privacy settings and use the ones that best fit the presence/information you want to share online.

In the right hands social media can be a very powerful thing, but it can also prevent you from gaining what you want.

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