Absence on Facebook = Criminal behavior?

August 30, 2012

A recent Forbes article sparked controversy when author Kashmir Hill claimed that Facebook abstainers could be labeled “suspicious”. The debate originated in Germany when an expert suggested that not being on Facebook exposes you as a social outcast, or even a potential mass murderer. (Both Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik and Aurora, CO shooter James Holmes lacked a social media presence).

Employers, for example, use social networks to find or screen potential applicants, and without an online presence, you may be overlooked. Even worse, they may assume you’re hiding something or failing to keep up with new technology. Yet, if you don’t enjoy using Facebook, you shouldn’t force yourself into a shabby profile. (Just keep in mind that Facebook is currently recruiters’ second most popular network of choice.)

While Kashmir refers to Facebook specifically, we think the discussion is broader. We believe you should focus your attention on having an online presence–but do it in a way that makes sense for you. Find the social network you feel fits you best as a person and/or professional, and start there. There are many ways to showcase your personality, a creative video bio on YouTube or a picture portfolio on Pinterest, for example. Also, if you have a blog, or write guest blogs for other bloggers, you can easily establish an online persona that shows off your professional skills, as well as your personal interests.

Conclusion: You want to be visible online, whether it’s on LinkedIn, Facebook, a blog or any other social platform. If you find yourself shying away from social platforms, it doesn’t mean you’re predisposed to isolation or criminal behavior (we hope). It often means you just haven’t found your footing. We recommend starting with LinkedIn. Create a profile and connect with people you know to get comfortable. Once you’re familiar with one network, you will likely start dipping your toe in to test the waters of other social networks.


6 Social Networks to Leverage in Your Job Search

July 16, 2012

Social networks offer benefits and opportunities that job seekers can leverage during the job search. Does that mean that you should have a profile on all of them? If you’re so inclined, sure! But you can also select the networks that make the most sense for you and your industry.

To help you determine which network is right for you, here is our overview of the 6 most popular social networks and their specific benefits:

1. LinkedIn
According to a new Jobvite survey, LinkedIn remains the dominant recruiting network, used by 93% of the respondents. Employers worldwide are on the site, and you may link with them directly by building a profile that outlines your experience. Showcasing your skills and talents on LinkedIn will help the right people and opportunities find their way to you.

Tip: Keep your profile up-to-date with your latest work information. Don’t forget to include a well-written summary that holds keywords and touches on your experience, interests, and goals.

2. Twitter
Twitter can be overwhelming for first-timers, but, with a little bit of patience, you can build a great network and connect with industry leaders or recruiters. You’ll have the opportunity to show them just how interested people are in what you have to say, and they will learn about your status in the industry. It can also increase your visibility and add to your credibility as a professional.

Tip: Use websites like WeFollow.com and Twellow.com to identify key influencers and industry leaders.  Once you follow them, listen and learn!

3. Facebook
What recruiters and employers like about Facebook is that it bridges the gap between personal and professional life. Image is everything. Your Facebook profile displays your personality and employers can better determine how you’ll fit into the company culture. Make your profile authentic, and showcase your ideal image. For more information check out our previous blog post on Facebook’s importance in the job search.

Tip: Make use of job searching apps like BranchOut and BeKnown to target your job search. ‘Like’ companies that interest you, and engage in conversation on their page. It’s a great way to connect with potential employers.

4. Pinterest
What better way to show off your newest design, or the delicious dishes you cooked up in your kitchen? If you are an aspiring artist or a chef in the making, Pinterest is A MUST for you! Photo sharing is one of the most popular features of social networks, so use Pinterest as a portfolio of your work.

Tip: In lieu of, or in addition to, posting a regular written resume, use Pinterest as a way to create a visual representation of your resume or professional experience. Create boards for your work experience, awards and accomplishments, degrees or classes, a portfolio of your work, and even your hobbies and interests. (Click here to see how it’s done!)

5. YouTube
Yet another great network for a creative professional! You can utilize YouTube to create a more effective and interactive online experience for employers, rather than just falling back on the good old resume.

Tip: Thinking about a video resume? Keep it short, a minute or two, and explain your background in a story-like fashion. Also specify why you are the best person for this job and what value you would bring to this organization with the skills you possess.

6. Google+
Google+ has established itself as a social network for people that are interested in the tech industry, including early adopters, social influencers and tech innovators. It’s a great place to showcase expertise and learn from others. And since Google controls much of search traffic, your Google+ profile will be found more easily, adding extra value to this relatively new network.

Tip: Google+ Sparks are topics you might be interested in, and a good way to keep track of what’s happening in your industry. Search by keyword to find news and information, and save your searches, which will then show up under Sparks on your profile page for quick access.

Any other social networks you’ve had success with during your job search? Do tell!


Job Seekers Beware – 9 Major Social Media Pitfalls!

June 18, 2012

Without a doubt, social media offers a variety of benefits and opportunities for job seekers. However, as much as we encourage you to take advantage of the pluses, we also want you to be aware of the potential pitfalls.

Here’s our list of the 9 major social media pitfalls to dodge during your job search:

1. Lying about your work history and qualifications

Doing this in any way, shape or form is a NO-GO! The rise of social media profiles makes it A LOT easier for potential employers to catch false information. Nobody likes a cheater! Your work experience, as shown on LinkedIn or Facebook, should match the resume that you hand to employers. Your information should be consistent across all networks.

2. Posting offensive comments anywhere social

Any use of profanity or offensive language will reflect negatively upon you, so avoid status updates and comments that could be interpreted as racist, sexist, criminal or discriminatory in any way (even if you assume that no one would take it seriously…someone could, and that someone shouldacoulda been your boss.)

3. Badmouthing a former employer, colleague, supervisor…etc.
This should be a no-brainer, but surprisingly enough, many people still air-out dirty laundry about past or current employment situations without considering the consequences. If you give someone the impression that you’ll badmouth them once you part ways, it’s unlikely they’ll even consider you. Also, beware the “I’m so bored,” or “this work stinks” posts. They reek of “lazy bum.” And, of course, revealing any snippet of confidential company information is 100% off-limits.

4. Not doing good with your grammar. (doing well!)
Yes, even with 140 characters in a tweet, using correct grammar is key! How many job postings do you see with “strong written and/or verbal communication skills” as REQUIREMENTS? These aren’t optional anymore. So don’t make a poor first impression by using subpar grammar. If your Facebook posts are consistently sporting spelling errors, incorrect usage, or odd abbreviations, potential employers don’t ignore them. Check your grammar and spelling to make sure that it’s top notch.

5. Sharing questionable pictures.
Whenever you upload a new photo, keep in mind that the wrong picture could easily go viral. Your friends might decide to share the pictures on their (public) networks. Or, even worse, they tagged you, and now all someone has to do is type your name into a search engine, and voilà… Look. At. You. Don’t let this happen. Adjust your privacy settings so prior approval of tags is required, and keep any inappropriate pictures offline (and as far away from potential employers as possible). What’s “inappropriate”? See grandma rule from former blog!

6. Venting, venting…and more venting.
We understand that there are days where you need to let off some steam, but as tempting as it may be to express your anger and frustration with 1000 of your closest friends on Facebook or Twitter, it may come back to haunt you. Think potential employers may see it as a sign of emotional instability? (Duh.) So if you’re angry or upset, give yourself time to cool off, or go to the gym and sweat it out. Never post anything in the heat of the moment.

7. Oversharing
Social networks encourage you to share information with your friends, but there are limits. One way to avoid this is to not make your online presence all about you. Share some interesting articles and videos. That way you’ll show that you have something meaningful to say other than what’s on TV tonight or what your doctor says about your intestinal problems. In short: know what to share, when to share it and with whom. Maintain a level of professional aloofness by limiting the content you upload.

8. Joining questionable groups or discussions
Who doesn’t enjoy networking with like-minded people? If you are actively searching for a job in a certain field, joining industry related discussions and groups is a great way of showing initiative and passion for a field. However, be careful about the more ‘casual’ groups you are joining. If you belong to “I don’t get drunk, I get awesome!” you might want to reconsider the talents you boast to the online universe. And, clearly, any discriminatory groups fall under the category of BAD IDEA.

9. Ignoring what everyone’s saying on your networks  
Pay attention. You probably won’t have time to check all your networks regularly (seeing how there’s a new one every week), so using a social monitoring service like Reppler will help you manage your professional online image across the different networks. With Reppler, you’ll receive instant notification if there is inappropriate content on any of your profiles. The sooner you fix the content, the better.


What Employers Are Looking For When They Screen Your Social Networks

May 21, 2012

It’s no secret that recruiters and hiring managers are going to sneak a peek at your social networks during the application process. But do you know what they’re actually sifting through your profiles to find? In a recent Reppler survey, we asked hiring managers if they have ever hired a candidate as a result of their social networking site content, and, if so, what specific factors influenced their decisions.

These were the Top 5 “it” factors they reported:

  1. The candidate gave a positive impression of their personality and organizational fit.
  2. The profile supported their professional qualifications.
  3. The profile showed that the candidate was creative.
  4. The candidate demonstrated solid communication skills.
  5. The profile showed that the candidate was well-rounded.

On the flip-side, we also wanted to know how hiring managers responded to any questionable social media content. Jennifer King, HR analyst at Software Advice, interviewed several recruiters and hiring managers to shed some light on this subject.*

There’s good news in that, while some recruiters outright reject candidates based on their social network content, others prefer to give the candidate a chance for redemption. That being said, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a chance to explain any or every raging weekend party picture. To be safe, we always recommend implementing the “grandma test” to keep profiles in check. If grandma wouldn’t be ok with it, don’t share it! Even if your privacy settings are set to “Friends only”, you never know who might gain access to your profile, or what your connections will share. Nothing that you put online is private!

Amy Henderson, account executive with Technisource, and one of King’s interviewees, offers this conclusion, “Perception is reality in the business world. The way people perceive you online, through social media–that’s what they use to make first impressions. And those first impressions are lasting impressions.”

*For more insights, check out the full article by Jennifer King.


Graduation Time: Get Your Social Networks Job Search Ready

May 8, 2012

Happy graduation month! While there is much to celebrate, most of you are aware that the “next step” clock is ticking away. What lies ahead? What happens now?

According to a recent Associated Press article, 1 in 2 new college graduates are jobless or underemployed. And job opportunities in popular fields, including education, healthcare, fine arts and humanities are in limited supply. The highly competitive job market forces all job seekers, especially recent grads, to step up their game, and social media provides the perfect opportunity to do so.

In Reppler’s recent survey, 91% of employers said they use social networks to screen applicants. Social networks can go beyond the scope of resumes and cover letters, granting employers insights into your personality and character. These insights can help assess your compatibility with both the position and a company’s overall culture. Take advantage! Your personality, achievements and interests need to convince employers that you’re a great fit–and a wise investment.

Unfortunately, for all the benefits social media provides, you can’t ignore its dark side. Everything written or published on the web stays. According to a recent Careerbuilder survey, 34% of hiring managers find negative and inappropriate material on social networks that causes them to eliminate candidates. This material includes, but is not limited to (Hint: This is what you want to avoid!):
·         References to alcohol and drug abuse
·         Sexually explicit photos
·         Derogatory language
·         Bad-mouthing former employers/co-workers

To show our support for new graduates (and, of course, anyone else in search of a job), we’re going to be providing a series of posts around job searching with social media throughout May. Stay tuned to find out what potential employers want to see on social networks, what pitfalls to avoid and which networks to leverage in your job search.


Location-Based Services Raise Privacy and Security Concerns

March 6, 2012

With apps like Foursquare and Facebook Places, you can share your whereabouts anytime, anywhere, linking yourself to real world locations. Sounds like a fun and useful feature, right? Maybe… but also potentially very dangerous!

Location-sharing services are popular features on social media sites, but they can also expose another layer of personal information that puts your security at risk. Criminals monitor Facebook and Twitter pages to secretly track their target’s location. And considering that the average home burglary takes just over 10 minutes, a quick trip to the grocery store could grant enough time for a potential break-in.

A quick Google search reveals multiple incidences of criminals using social networks and other interactive websites to target victims. Here are some simple steps to protect yourself:

  • Don’t announce that you will be out of town for trips and vacations.
  • Limit the usage of location-based services like Foursquare and Facebook Places.
  • Don’t share pictures that reveal your address or landmarks near your home.
  • Don’t give detailed accounts of your daily routine online.

It is also important to pay close attention to your privacy settings to ensure that you don’t “overshare” with complete strangers. Only trusted friends should be able keep track of where you are.


10 Tips to Protect Your Identity on Social Networks

February 27, 2012

Our privacy risks increase, as we are encouraged to provide more and more information online. Identity theft and fraud are some of the more serious consequences of over-sharing, yet most people do little to protect their personal information online. In fact, nearly 13 million people are accepting friend requests from strangers, particularly of the opposite sex, according to a survey by Harris Interactive in 2011.

Most recognize that no one should ever share Social Security and driver’s license numbers, but there is other, less obvious, information that can be used against you in malicious ways. Exposing the following information increases your security risk:

  • Full name (in particular your middle name)
  • Date of Birth
  • Hometown
  • Phone Numbers
  • Relationship status
  • School Location/Graduation Date
  • Pet names (popular security questions for password recovery!)
  • Travel/Vacation information

With the serious consequences of “over-sharing” in mind, we put together a Top 10 ways to protect your online privacy:

  1. Review the privacy and security policies of any third party apps (e.g. Farmville).
  2. Don’t offer up sensitive or personal information (see previous list).
  3. Only invite people you know to join your social networks.
  4. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
  5. Set privacy settings to only allow friends to see your content.
  6. Never open links from someone you don’t know.
  7. Create unique passwords and user names for all social media accounts.
  8. Make sure you log out of public computers completely.
  9. Use a social media monitoring service like Reppler to help you identify potential security risks.
  10. Google yourself regularly to see what kind of information people can find about you.

Some of these tips may seem obvious, but a lot of people continue to use social networks with little concern for potential dangers. And if these don’t seem like enough, and you want to take additional steps to protect your identity, we recommend signing up for identity protection service from TrustedID to help you monitor all of your personal information.


Protect Your Professional Image on Facebook Timeline

February 10, 2012

On February 14th, Facebook Timeline will go live for ALL users, signaling a final departure from the traditional Facebook profile. Timeline is a visual aggregation of your Facebook History. From the book you read in 2005 to the movie you watched last month to the song you’re listening to right now, Timeline shares all.

Users need to recognize the risks involved with Timeline. Once you have Timeline, it reveals pictures, status updates and events chronologically from when you first started Facebooking to the present time. This means that people will be able to scroll through your history, potentially discovering posts or pictures you’d rather leave in the past.
Here are four simple steps to help you “clean” your Timeline—so you can continue to convey a positive Facebook image:

1. Make your profile private: Go to Privacy Settings > “How You Connect”. Switch “Who can post on your Timeline” and “Who can see posts by others on your Timeline?” from “Public” to “Friends”.

Go to Privacy Settings > “How Tags Work”. Switch the settings for “Maximum Timeline Visibility” from “Public” to “Friends.”

2. Limit your audience for past posts:  Go to “Limit the Audience for Past Posts”. Click “Manage Past Post Visibility”, then “Limit Old Post”. Now, your past posts are visible to your Friends only, even if you initially made them public.

3. Hide or delete posts:  Click on the edit button at the top of the content item and choose “Hide from Timeline” or “Delete Post”. You’ll need to click on each month and hide or delete all of those posts individually.

4. Delete posts from other Timelines: Go to “Activity Log”, click on “All” to see all of your posts, comments, likes and events, organized by date. Click on “Your Posts” to see all your posts and comments on other people’s Wall, and delete anything that could be considered inappropriate

5. Monitor your profile:  Use a monitoring service like Reppler to ensure that your profile always projects the “you” that everyone from your parents to your buddies to a potential employer should see. Set up your Reppler account so that you will be notified as soon as flagged content shows up on your profile.

If you’ve been on Facebook for a long time, “cleaning” your Timeline can be time consuming. But it’s well worth the effort!


Do You Know Your Audience?

October 11, 2011

On September 27, we launched a new version of Reppler with exciting new features. One of the new features is the Your Networks section of the My Networks page. Your Networks gives you a comparison of your connections across the different social networks you use. In this blog post, we will explain why this is important for managing your professional reputation.

Whether you are a student, currently employed or looking for a new job, creating and maintaining a professional online presence is more important than ever. However, in order to build that professional online presence, your have to know who you are communicating to. Who is the audience of your posts and status updates, and how would you like to be perceived by them? The abundance of social networks available on the web makes it difficult to keep track of who you added on what network. Imagine you forgot that you added your boss or coworker on Facebook, and you just posted about the long weekend in Vegas which you supposedly spent in bed with a fever, or your friends decide to post pictures of your last night out, one of your not so stellar moments.

It takes one bad judgment like that – an unflattering photo, an inappropriate comment or something more serious- and your professional reputation will take a serious hit. Also, keep in mind that the different networks show different sides of you. While Facebook zooms in on your social life and personal interests, LinkedIn emphasizes your professional accomplishments and allows you to make connections with other professionals. You may want your current employer to see your professional side on LinkedIn or Twitter, but do you really want him or her to see your party habits on the weekend?  And even if you did not add your boss to your Facebook connections, you might have added one of your coworkers who is secretly showing your employer the inappropriate content on your Wall. It is easy to lose track of all the people with whom you are sharing personal information, so there is a high risk that damaging information reaches the wrong audience.

Reppler’s new Your Network section shows how many network connections you have on each individual network, and it also displays how many connections you have across all networks combined. However, the most valuable information for users to observe is how many connections overlap within their networks. You will be able to see how many of your Facebook friends are also on your Twitter and LinkedIn network or how many of your professional contacts on LinkedIn are also connected to you on Facebook. You now know who you are communicating to, which allows you to better manage your profiles and your connections in order to maintain a professional online image. Take a look at Reppler’s Your Network section, and make sure that next time you post an update on one of your networks, you know exactly who your audience is.


Managing Your Online Image Across Social Networks

September 27, 2011

Today, we are launching a new version of Reppler, which adds support for Twitter and LinkedIn, among other things.  But before we get into the details of the new version, let us explain the big picture problem we are addressing.

We recently conducted a survey of 300 professionals who are involved in the hiring process at their company to understand the use of social networks for screening job applicants.  The results of this survey are shown in this infographic:

So what do these results really tell us?  From our perspective, there are three key takeaways:

  1. Whether you like it or not, hirers are using social networks to screen job applicants.  This means it is important to carefully manage your image on these types of sites.
  2. Facebook and Twitter are being used a lot to screen job applicants.  On Facebook and Twitter, we believe hirers are trying to get a more personal view of a candidate, rather than the resume-like view they will see on LinkedIn.
  3. Hirers are looking at the social networking profiles of candidates very early in the process.  This means that job seekers need to have their online act in order before they begin looking for a job.

The bottom line is that it is important for users, whether they are looking for a job or building up their professional reputation, to manage their online image across the different social networks they use.  And this is the big picture problem we are addressing with the new version of Reppler.

The features in the new version of Reppler include:

  • Support for Twitter and LinkedIn – Reppler now supports Twitter and LinkedIn, in addition to the support for Facebook it currently has.
  • Cross-Network Analysis – In addition to monitoring each of these services to provide you feedback on the tone of language used, inappropriate content found, and other potential issues and risks identified, Reppler provides cross-network analysis in a couple areas.  It looks at all of your connections across the social networks you use to inform you on the makeup of your connections.  For example, Reppler will show you how many of your professional connections on LinkedIn are also friends of yours on Facebook.  Reppler also provides a comparison matrix of your profile information on each social network so you can see if there are any inconsistencies in how you are presenting yourself.
  • The Reppler Image Score – Reppler calculates what we call the Reppler Image Score, a measure that takes into account a variety of elements that can affect your online image – the completeness of information in your profiles, the consistency of your information across different social networks, the tone of your content, the appropriateness of your content, the number of people you are connected to, etc.
  • Weekly Updates – Reppler automatically sends you a weekly email that summarizes activity across your social networks that could affect your online image.  This keeps you abreast of any issues and gives you the opportunity to take action before it is too late.

That’s a quick overview of the new version of Reppler.  Now you can effectively manage your online image across the different social networks you use.  Reppler is a free service and you can sign up by going to www.reppler.com.  If you have any feedback or questions, go to our Facebook Page and leave us a message on our Wall.