What from the "Don't be stupid on social media" school of philosophy do you not understand yet? In case there's any doubt about what you should or shouldn't be saying or doing on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, business psychologists from the U.K. are happy to let you know that those sites are being scoured for dirt or anything else that could trip you up with an employer, potential or existing.
The psychologists, part of a group called OPP, presented its findings at a recent conference on occupational psychology. "When applying for a new job, candidates spend hours pulling together a targeted, convincing and professional-looking CV to secure that interview. But what if your potential employer is not noticing your impeccable spelling and beautifully formatted covering letter, but instead raising an eyebrow at your flippant comments, risqué photos and questionable ‘check-ins’ on Facebook?" OPP says.
The organization surveyed 1,000 people in the U.K. and Ireland, and found:
56 percent of respondents said that they were likely to check out the social media presence of potential employees (although 27 percent of those surveyed said they would be uncomfortable with the same being done to them). On the flipside, 37 percent of people said they change their persona online — so looking at their online presence may be misleading anyway.
Think it's just Facebook or Twitter shenanigans that can get you off someone's list of potential hires? What if you say on LinkedIn that you're interested in "career opportunities" — LinkedIn offers you a check box for that if you want it — even though you're already working somewhere?
OPP notes a real-life case about that in Britain. As reported in The Telegraph, John Flexman "is thought to be the first person in the country to bring a case for constructive dismissal after a dispute with bosses" over his LinkedIn profile:
Mr Flexman is claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds from BG Group, a major gas exploration firm based in Reading, Berks, where he earned a £68,000 salary in charge of graduate recruitment.
As well as loading his CV onto the site, Mr Flexman ticked a box to register an interest in “career opportunities."
Says OPP: "For jobseekers, some pretty common-sense advice applies: Lock down your Facebook profile, and behave on LinkedIn as you would at a professional networking event (without the free bar!)"
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