The Internet has become such an important part of the job search process. It is the most powerful tool any job seeker has for identifying career opportunities—even at the executive level for which I recruit. Job search platforms have made it easy to seek out and apply for opportunities. However, like any powerful tool, it needs to be used wisely. Otherwise you could end up hurting your chances for roles or even damaging your reputation in the workplace.
Here are eight ways candidates sabotage themselves with their online presence:
- Having negative comments or unflattering images on social media. Your social media presence is your image to the public. Manage it wisely. It should be common sense, but people often fail to realize how much damage they can do to their professional life with the information they share online. The golden rule to follow here: Do not share anything online that you would not share at work. You never know who will forward your information to someone else or where the information you post might end up.
- Clicking the “Apply” button without reading the details about a job. When LinkedIn or a job board sends you an e-mail with a list of jobs you may be interested in, they generate those lists based on key words in your profile or resume. That doesn’t necessarily mean these jobs match your qualifications. Hitting “Apply” without reading more than the title could create a negative impression on the other end. Look at each role and determine if you are really qualified or close to being qualified. Make sure it is something you really want to pursue. Multiple applications to the wrong role could hurt you when a role opens that you really want.
- Reading e-mails quickly and not following the instructions. Employers and recruiters put details in our job postings or e-mails that are important. Often, a candidate will skim the e-mail and send us a question about something that was in the information presented. Or candidates will not follow instructions carefully for an interview and end up in the wrong place or delayed, or worse. Lack of attention to detail makes you look careless. Many hiring managers will reject you outright for that.
- Applying too often to one entity. This makes you look desperate or unfocused on your true ambitions. It says, “I will take any job.” That is not the message you want to convey to potential employers. If an organization has multiple jobs open, apply for the one that best suits your background and career goals. If someone on the other end thinks you are qualified for another role, they will reach out to you or share your information with others in their organization.
- Sending a resume to any recruiter you can find on the Internet. Lately, my colleagues and I are seeing an uptick in this activity. We get e-mails with a resume attached and a request from the candidate for help in identifying a new role. My specialty (and my firm’s focus) is health care and higher education. It is rare that I have a client willing to look for candidates outside its industry, and often the candidate will have skill sets that are not even close to the types of roles I fill. Submitting to multiple recruiters is a waste of your time and mine, and it also makes you look careless. Look for recruiters who specialize in the types of roles you are seeking in your field.
- Arguing via e-mail with a recruiter or employer. At my firm, we try to send a note back to candidates we are not moving forward with in a search. Sometimes a candidate will e-mail me back with a request for more information about why he or she is not being considered. This is a reasonable question, and I usually take the time to give some of the specific reasons he or she did not meet an employer’s requirements. On occasion, I get an angry e-mail back stating that the requirements are invalid or not necessary. Ultimately, the requirements are set by organizations in good faith and for good reasons. Arguing about them will not help, and argumentative behavior does not help your image. It also could prevent you from consideration for other roles.
- Not submitting a resume and asking the employer or recruiter to look at your LinkedIn profile. As comprehensive as some LinkedIn profiles are today, they are still not a substitute for a resume. Asking someone to refer to your LinkedIn profile says you are not serious about applying for the job.
- Being careless about a Skype/Facetime/video interview. Interviewing is an important step in the process. It is important that you present yourself in a professional way. Just because you are interviewing from your home doesn’t mean you should be casual about your appearance or the setting. Dress appropriately. Make sure there are no glaring lights in the eyes of your interviewer. There should not be other people or pets in the room. Go somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. Look at what will be in the background behind you. Sit at a desk or table in a regular chair—not in a recliner. Look into the camera when you speak to the interviewer. If you have never or infrequently used Skype or Facetime before, make sure you test the technology before your interview and make sure you are properly set up to receive a call. Keep the camera stationary and don’t move it around. You want the interviewer to see a polished professional without any distractions.
The Internet gives us great tools to explore career opportunities. Use it to your best advantage.
Diane Nicholas is a consultant with WK Advisors, a division of executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. WK Advisors specializes in filling innovative mid-level and other critical executive positions in health care, education, and the not-for-profit sector.