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Jennifer Newman: What employers look for when checking your Facebook, LinkedIn

According to workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman online social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can go a long way in determining if you're the right fit for a company.

Employers tend to not care about silly photos on Facebook, but they do check the site.

Forget the resume, employers will often assess a job candidate based off of their online presence. (Getty Images)

Looking for a job isn't easy. And for employers, finding the right person for that job isn't a cakewalk either. Job applicants and recruiters alike often turn to methods besides resumes and interviews for help.

Employers are known to look at LinkedIn or scan Facebook to check out job candidates, while applicants use their social networking sites to attract job offers. But figuring out what an employer is looking for and trusting an applicant's carefully crafted e-impression can make using these tools tricky.

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman spoke with The Early Edition's Rick Cluff about how to manage an online presence.

What are employers looking for when they check out applicants on LinkedIn or Facebook?
They want to know if an applicant has the abilities and skills to do the job. They also want to figure out if the applicant is a fit with the organization's culture.

To get an understanding of an applicant's education and job experience they go towards LinkedIn. To get an idea of (how a person fits in with a job) they look at LinkedIn to assess qualifications. To assess the applicant's fit with the company's culture, they may look at Facebook.

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman gives her advice on making your online presence tailored for potential employers. (Jennifer Newman)

But how accurate is this? Can you really figure out someone's personality from their Facebook profile?
This can be quite accurate. Research shows there's a connection between what your online profile says about you and who you actually are. Job applicants can try to fake it by trying to figure out what a recruiter is looking for, but unlike a resume, social networking sites aren't tailored for specific jobs.

That way, social networking sites can give a good idea of who you are and what you can do with the formalities aside.

How does an employer find out if an applicant fits the organization from their Facebook profile?
They focus on aspects of Facebook that provide professional information and information that relates to the job. Research shows they also look at the number of friends someone has to assess their network.

They may examine Facebook for personal information looking for how extroverted a candidate appears to be. They also use it to look at whether the candidate seems impulsive or neurotic. It can be a great tool to decide if the applicant's personality would fit with their company.

What about LinkedIn, what are employers looking for on that site? It seems more geared towards the job market.

Recruiters are most interested in job-related information and that's why they like LinkedIn. They tend to use it to assess whether the applicant has the skills to do the job. Also, they want to see if they have the education and credentials necessary.

It's also a cross-reference with the resume, therefore it's key that everything should be the same on both. If it's not, it can work against a candidate.

What about when an employer sees pictures on FaceBook, especially ones that make the applicant look irresponsible?
According to research, recruiters don't focus on this as much as applicants think they do. They don't put much stock in pictures, so if someone is partying it's not given that much weight.

They are more interested on what the profile says about job-related things. They'll focus on whether the candidate seems knowledgeable and enjoys life.

They'll also look to see if they are active in sports, or having hobbies or interests.

Is this legal, can employers go snooping through someone's social networking sites?

Looking at a candidate's Facebook profile can be intrusive. Most employers tend to prefer to see someone's LinkedIn site. But, applicants leave an impression on both sites about their skill and abilities as well as their personalities.

How should an applicant use these sites to get a job?
Give recruiters the information they need. 

  • Keep your education record up to date.
  • Add recent jobs, volunteer opportunities you've had.
  • Show you are diligent and have a good work ethic by giving detail.
  • And, highlight your experience, interests and attitude.

Don't worry about times you look foolish or for specific photos — recruiters don't care that much. Gear your site to the types of work you are looking for. Show how your personality is suited to the job or organization.

To hear more, click the audio labelled: Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman talks about how to use social media to show potential employers you're the best fit for the job.


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