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Employers nix more and more job applicants after reviewing social networking sites

College students prepping for life after graduation may want to take a closer look at their social networking profiles before they lose out on potential jobs.

A recent survey commissioned by Microsoft revealed that 70 percent of hiring managers around the world have admitted to rejecting applicants due to information uncovered through online investigation.

One thousand and two hundred human resource managers and consumers in the U.S., Britain, Germany and France admitted to hiring professional background investigators to use search engines, social networking profiles, personal Web sites, blogs, gaming sites and online classifieds to find information on potential candidates.

With an increasing amount of employers conducting online background checks for potential job candidates, students are being forced to think twice about what actions they make when posting on social media sites.

“I’m generally worried about employers checking out my Facebook page,” said Gabe Turk, a communication student in his final year at Ohio State. “I do go out a lot with my friends on the weekend, and that doesn’t detract from my work necessarily, but employers may think that it would, and that might be a reason for them to not hire me.”

When analyzing the data produced by Microsoft’s survey, Turk’s concerns appear to be validated.

According to the survey, 55 percent of employers cited inappropriate photos as the cause of rejection, 56 percent attributed inappropriate written text by both the candidate and their friends, while 58 percent claimed questionable lifestyle data on the candidate was enough to nix them from job contention.

“I tend to delete pictures with my face open like an idiot,” Turk said. “I watch all my Facebook posts, and make sure my friends don’t type any curse words or anything like that. I also change my last name.”

Turk’s attempt to “hide” his Facebook profile is not an uncommon practice.

With online profile checks becoming another hurdle for students in today’s increasingly stringent hiring procedures, many are questioning how much of a detriment Facebook and Twitter accounts can pose in the search for employment.

April Calkovsky, an internship specialist in the Arts and Sciences Program at OSU, works closely with students to find internships in their field of study.

For Calkovsky, warning students about monitoring their online reputation has become a high priority.

“It is up to each person to use discretion when they’re online, and to know what is out there about them,” Calkovsky said. “And it’s up to the employer to use their own judgment of that activity.”

As a result of the increase in employers using online profile pages to judge the character of potential job candidates, a number of young professionals have turned to abandoning social networking media in fear of being negatively evaluated.

However, avoiding social networking as a whole could put employee-hopefuls at a disadvantage as well.

Jerry Thomas, an OSU faculty member in the Department of Human and Community Resource Development, works with organizations to integrate technology and social networking media into their workflow.

Thomas feels users who attempt to avoid using social networking sites could be excluding themselves from a huge advantage over their predecessors. A high number of industry veterans are finding themselves in competition with younger job applicants, in an economy still reeling from recession.

“I know some recruiters, especially recruiters over the age of 40- to- 45, really advise upon not even having Facebook pages,” Thomas said. “But on the other hand, if you use them correctly, having those pages really builds up a network that people in that age group could be envious of.”

With Spring Quarter graduation looming, many students planning to make the jump from student to professional a smoother process are evaluating how online reputation will affect their job placement.

“Based on an interview alone, it’s probably hard for them to decide if you’re really the person that they want on their job,” said Rachel Starr, a third-year in communication. “If you’ve got pictures of yourself that they maybe don’t think are appropriate, yeah they’ll judge you. But you should’ve probably thought of that before you put it on your Facebook page.”  

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