Employers researching the researchers!
A hot topic of discussion in research career circles is the growing propensity of potential employers to research their research career applicants. It isn’t just happening in the research world but nowhere else is it as ironic! Much of the investigation into research job applicants’ backgrounds isn’t conventional i.e.; a police report and a credit check. Today’s investigative research is taking place on social networking sites with potential employers looking into the backgrounds of research job applicants via sites like Facebook and Twitter.
For people with relatively normal lives this could be bad news. Nude pictures, slang, drinking, friends, any number of things could be misconstrued through these sites and reflect badly. Not many of us want to censor or edit our social networking sites in order to look good to strangers but that may be what’s necessary for the future. In a report by ConsumerAffairs.com, last year up to 45% of employers reported using social networking sites to check up on job candidates. That number had doubled from the previous year and this year the number is probably significantly higher than 45%. That means every research job applicant should expect to have their personal networking sites looked at by potential employers.
Interestingly the employers who did the most searching were the ones who were hiring for jobs in which employees handled sensitive information and technology. That of course applies to just about every research job on the planet and therefore it can be assumed that an even higher number of research job applicants are social network screened than others. Even more fascinating are the reasons applicants have been rejected after social network site searches. The stats obtained in the survey are not unexpected; 53% of applicants were rejected for posting nudity, 44% for alcohol or drug use, job applicants who slandered their previous employers, co-workers or clients 35%, and others who were given the toss after the employer investigation included those with poor communication skills, those who discriminated, those who lied and those who disclosed confidential information.
Is there any good news? Yes, there is! A number of employers actually were swayed in favor of a particular research job applicant from the search results. Sites that initiated a positive employer response were those where the candidate profile page showed a good personality and a fit with the company; job qualifications were substantiated by the site information; candidates showed excellent communication skills and where candidates were well rounded with good feedback and people around them.
Of the employers surveyed who do conduct searches 29 percent used Facebook, 26 percent used LinkedIn and 21 percent used MySpace. One employer in 10 searched blogs, while 7% followed candidates on Twitter. The solution of course is to either clean up your site, set up two pages – one for the general public and one for friends and family – or make all of your sites private. What all of this goes to show is that social networking sites can be leveraged in favor of research job applicants willing to put in some effort and clean up their pages.
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