Woody Allen is credited with saying, “80% of success is just showing up.” But that was before the Internet and the recent rise of social media.
These days, showing up “inappropriately” on the Internet may kill your chance at a job. Academics and teachers may be at particular risk because of the responsible nature of the work and expectation of the roles.
Among college career counselors, it’s common knowledge that at least a few students have lost job offers because of “inappropriate content” on the Internet, such as photos of them drinking and disporting themselves at parties and such.
But the trend for online “data mining” seems to have stepped up considerably, according to a study done in December of 2009 by Cross-Tab, on behalf of Microsoft. Titled “Online Reputation in a Connected World,” it reports how recruiters and HR professionals use “online reputational information in their candidate review processes…”
While the sample sizes are small, involving “approximately 275 recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers, and about 330 consumers” interviewed in each of four countries, the results are striking.
Considering only the US recruiters and HR professionals,
- 89% have used online data mining as part of the hiring process and most consider it appropriate to consider personal data.
- 70% have used data they’ve found online to reject job candidates – despite their own concern about the authenticity of that information.
- 63% check social media sites of candidates, but only 57% report checking applicants’ professional and business sites.
- 75% of companies surveyed now require this online screening as official hiring policy.
- 85% say they are influenced positively by strong positive online reputations of candidates, and nearly half say their hiring decisions are influenced by this to a “great extent.” (At least there’s one positive for online reputation data mining.)
The Trend Promises to Increase
For better or worse, recruiters and HR professionals in the US, the UK, Germany and France all expect this use of online data mining for “reputational information” to increase significantly in the next five years! Thus, even if these figures are not representative of the current state of recruiting, they may well be very soon.
Information that has influenced rejections of candidates has included
- poor communication skills displayed or comments/text written by the candidate
- including that criticizing previous employers
- photos, videos and information deemed inappropriate
- membership in certain groups and networks
- concern about finances
and in addition, the list includes
- inappropriate comments or text written by friends, relatives, colleagues or work acquaintances!
“Consumers” Are Not Aware
As few as 7% of US consumers surveyed believed their job search would be affected by their online reputation.
And, 19% of those surveyed think it “very appropriate” for potential employers to check their social media sites for photos and videos, versus 44% who considered it “very inappropriate.” (Note: When age is considered, 56% of the 18-24 year-olds think this is “very inappropriate.”)
This implies, of course, that most consumers are not taking steps to protect their privacy in even simple ways, and that’s not even considering the complexity of dealing with comments or text written by others about them.
While most academics have left their former peers and childish escapades behind, their Internet history may continue “just showing up,” but NOT contribute to their success.