welcomes Michael Specht to
the stable of guru bloggers on the
site. Michael runs his own consulting business, Inspecht,
looking at HR, recruitment and technology. Michael has a unique view on
how social media can be used by organisations to not just enhance the
employer brand but actually attract the best people to work for your
organisation. He regularly blogs and hangs out online in places like Twitter. Want to know more? Google him!

With the rapid growth of social media many of us are publishing more and more content online for the world to see. All of this information is providing employers and recruiters with a significant opportunity to review and check on candidates before offering them a job. A recent survey by CareerBuilder in the US found that 22% of hiring managers now reviewed social networks as part of their research into candidates, with 34% dismissing a candidate from consideration based on what they found. The biggest issues identified by the survey were information/pictures of candidates drinking or using drugs, followed by inappropriate photographs or information.

Examples of people missing out on interviews and being sacked due to what is found online are becoming unfortunately extremely common. In November 2008 forklift driver, Matthew Garry Ward, was convicted of breaching safety laws by conducting burn outs and two-wheeled stunts on his company provided forklift. How did he get caught? A video on YouTube, which is not longer available, was found by a fellow employee and reported to management. Matthew had filmed the stunts using his mobile phone and posted them directly to YouTube under the title How 2 pass you forklift License (sic).

In more public examples in February 2009 16-year-old Kimberley Swann was sacked from her office administrator job due to status updates on Facebook. Kimberley was posting how she found her job boring and the business owner took offence and dismissed her on the spot. Last year in October, Virgin Atlantic sacked 13 cabin crew members due to posts on Facebook. The allegations were that the staff had called into question the company’s safety standards and insulted passengers by calling them chavs.

However the news is not all bad; in the same CareerBuilder survey almost 25% said the information they found increased the candidate’s chances of being hired! High quality candidates in Australia are finding that a positive online brand is helping in their job search.

Managing your online brand is now critical for anyone who is part of the 75% of Australian adults who use social technology (Source: Forrester Research).

Tips for managing your online brand:

  • Do a search on your name in different search engines, what results appear? Does it promote you in a positive light, does it highlight your professional skills?
  • Try and purchase the domain and use it as the central hub for your online profile.
  • Create a web resume that highlights your achievements, make sure it matches your LinkedIn profile and traditional resume.
  • Have an easy to remember, professional email address do not use this address for work purposes.
  • Prepare a complete LinkedIn profile, along with recommendations.
  • Join industry specific social networks and participate in the discussions. There are social networks for almost every possible industry and profession.
  • By creating a blog to cover aspects of your industry or profession will highlight your skills to potential employers.
  • Produce videos, photos or create online portfolios of the work you have completed.
  • Register for Twitter, Facebook and other popular social networking sites.
  • Use monitoring tools such as Google News, Google Blog Search or Technorati to alert you about when people mention your name or your web sites.
  • Any public presentations you give upload to Slideshare to highlight your expertises.
  • Remove any unflattering photos or comments from sites such as Facebook or MySpace. While they might still exist in the cache of search engines they will be harder for people to find.
  • Be careful about what you publish online, remember the information is in the public domain and will be visible in search engines.