It was recently announced that Admiral Insurance was going to analyse users’ profiles on Facebook to set insurance prices. This triggered great controversy and was immediately decried by internet privacy campaigners, forcing a dramatic u-turn.
This venture had been shrouded in secrecy for months. There will certainly be similar initiatives in the online ether that the public are not privy to. Scaremongers will claim it as an example of the nefarious behaviour of big business, the brazen disregard companies have for internet privacy. It’s a fine line to tread - as a seasoned recruiter, I know the changes the internet has brought about in my industry.
Nine in 10 recruiters use LinkedIn to vet potential employees. I instil the value of scrutinising LinkedIn profiles into my staff - this is the professional image, the personal brand a candidate wants to portray. However, the temptation to stray on to a candidate’s Facebook or Twitter page is strong for any recruiter. While it’s not something I encourage, the nature of business is such that stealing a march on your competitor is vital. Companies are going to mine for personal, online data with less and less regard for the cost, as Admiral has illustrated.
While the above LinkedIn statistic is unsurprising, I would speculate that the percentage of employers that scour alternate social media platforms is now not far behind. As a jobseeker, either reinforce your privacy settings or cultivate a persona commensurate with your professional life across every platform you use.
You would be the surprised at the banalities some recruiters will alight upon online. Alcohol in your profile picture? Flippant status updates? Dubious likes? All of this and more could count against you in your job search.
When I started out in business, the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed and the way you communicated made up your personal brand. It now comprises tiny, granular details - the venue you checked in to last week could have an effect on an employer’s perception of you. I couldn’t have foreseen the ways in which the internet has shaped recruitment over the past five years, never mind the past 20. The value of a professional, uniform online personal brand cannot be overstated - you just don’t know what’s around the virtual corner.