Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

8 Sep, 2013

Students Think They Have Clean Facebook Page, but Recruiters Aren’t Impressed


SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–September 05, 2013 – Recruiters and college students have conflicting opinions on what is appropriate to post on Facebook, according to a recently released survey of 500 U.S. college juniors and seniors conducted by Persona, Inc., a social media utility designed to help users protect professional reputations online. Fifty-seven percent of college students do not think they have inappropriate content on their Facebook, yet in a previous industry survey posted on CNN, 69 percent of recruiters have rejected candidates based on negative information online.

Despite differences in what should and should not be posted online, recruiters and college students are in agreement on the importance of social media in the job market. Seventy-one percent of college students in the Persona survey say Facebook profiles are “influential” to “very influential” in hiring decisions. And a 2012 Jobvite survey reveals that 92 percent of recruiters plan on using social media for recruiting, emphasizing the nearly unanimous value placed on candidates’ social networks.

Yet while students seem to be aware that recruiters look at their profiles, the Persona survey suggests they feel overly confident in their current Facebook profiles and are not proactively taking steps to present a professional Facebook image:

  • 55 percent “never” delete or un-tag inappropriate photos and posts, or only do so “once a year.”
  • 80 percent would feel “comfortable” to “very comfortable” if a recruiter looked at their profile.
  • 57 percent have a completely private profile to anyone who is not their friend, choosing to hide content rather than actively monitor posts for appropriateness.

“Without precautions in place, social media can ruin the job hunt and damage your reputation and credibility,” said Lee Sherman, CEO and founder of Persona. “While students can monitor what they post, it is much harder to keep track of some 400 Facebook friends who all have the potential of posting an off-color comment on your wall or a questionable photo of you. The last thing you want to do is raise concerns among recruiters in this competitive job market.”

Sherman suggests that college students need to understand the potential dangers of Facebook, like recognizing that one offensive post can scar a professional reputation, then build a positive, personal brand that makes them an appealing job candidate. Here are three ways student job seekers can put their best foot forward on social media from Persona:

Show your personality: Employers hire people they like and want to spend time with. In an interview, it is possible that an employer will ask about hobbies and personal interests to get to know the candidate on a more personal level. So get an advantage before the interview and use Facebook to showcase personal experiences. Post photos of a big trip or community involvement to share a more personal side.

Go back in time: Facebook never forgets. Be aware that recruiters and potential employers will not only look at Facebook profiles, they will go back in time to the earlier posts. No one, not even the most careful candidate, wants recruiters to see photos or posts of them from their teenage years. Monitor content now, and go back in time to delete content from the early days.

Network: According to another survey by Social Jobs Partnership, 60 percent of employers cite Facebook’s networking abilities as important. Job seekers can use this pool of connections in two ways. First, to secure an interview by reaching out to the whole network of friends, which significantly increases potential job opportunities. Second, once an interview is secured, look for friends and friends of friends to see if there is an existing connection to the organization. During this process, make sure to treat each connection as a possible client, colleague, or manager.