By Jeff Shane, Professional Resume Writer
In recent years, the reference-checking landscape has changed dramatically for both prospective employers and job seekers alike. The advent of social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook has provided new tools to enable prospective employers to research reference data on a prospective candidate – and that candidate may be you.
From the hiring manager/recruiter perspective, vast personal networks can be accessed – the membership of LinkedIn alone exceeds 135 million members. It has been estimated that a significant majority of hiring managers have recruited through social networks during 2011. In addition, many hiring managers check candidate’s backgrounds using tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook (in addition to general Google searches). Prospective employers can access the information on these sites even before a candidate is interviewed in person. An employer can type in the candidate’s name, previous employers and dates of employment and might well come up with the names of the candidate’s former associates (names that the candidate might not want accessed by prospective employers).
What are the ramifications for you, the job seeker? Again, a prospective employer might be able to access (your) former references beyond the scope of those names you would normally provide to them as references. Simply offering up the name of your former Human Resources representative, or of your immediate supervisor, might not be sufficient if an employer is able to utilize social media tools to access the names of your second-level supervisors or other key associates.
This being the case, what steps should you be taking now to ensure that your social media data wouldn’t be used against you? Consider these five proactive steps to manage your references in the Internet Age: