Consumer Reports: Social media and employers

(CONSUMER REPORTS) - If you're looking for a job, you're going to need to do a lot more than spruce up your resume.  

As part of their screening, potential employers will likely scour your social media accounts, which is why Consumer Reports says there are a few things you can do to put your best cyber-foot forward.

Jeanette Torres says the first lesson she learned in grad school was social media 101.

"The very first thing they told us was to change your email, clean up your Facebook because we have checked, and your future employers will check also," Torres said.

She's got that right.  A CareerBuilder survey this year found 70% of potential employers used social media to screen candidates and more than half didn't hire someone because of something they saw.

Of course, there are limits on how they can use what they find. Federal law bars employers from considering a person's race, religion, disability or age when weighing candidates even if they glean that information on Facebook.

Other rules vary state by state.  It's against the law in some states for interviewers to ask you for your passwords; others might resort to something called shoulder surfing.

"[Shoulder surfing] is when the employer will have you open up your social media account and literally stand over your shoulder checking out your page," Consumer Reports Senior Money Writer Donna Rosato said.

One way or another, potential employers will be looking so Torres polished her profile, starting with pictures. 

"I put on my professional cap on and I looked through my profile pictures and I said, 'I don't know, I kind of took that when I was 16 and I'm really not the same person,'" Torres said.

As for photos other people post of you, you can't delete them but you can untag yourself.  You can also use your page to carefully craft the image you want employers to see.  

In other words, accentuate the positive and eliminate and untag the negative.  

Remember your profile picture and your email address are the first things employers will see, so make sure both are professional. 


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