Want a job? Clean up your Facebook account!
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Want a job? Clean up your Facebook account!

The personal digital footprints of this year’s new graduates could cost them a job, warns a public relations expert.

Victoria Tomlinson, author of a new ebook, “From Student to Salary with Social Media”, says: “Thousands of young people left university this summer without understanding what a quick Google search tells an employer about them.   They might have good CVs, but if their Twitter and Facebook accounts are full of evidence of drunken debauchery or what employers see as bullying and unpleasant comments, then they won’t make the shortlist. And they may never know why.”

Victoria Tomlinson, chief executive of Northern Lights PR, urges students to clean up their social media profiles and tighten privacy settings because employers do make judgements if they see unpleasant language and behaviour online.

 Claire Morley-Jones, managing director of HR180, recruits everyone from part-time staff to chief executives on behalf of her clients. She says: “We do use social media to find candidates. Unfortunately, more often than not we are concerned about what we see online. Some of the worst cases have involved searching for potential candidates and discovering online content that involves salacious, ‘peeping tom’ style photos of a recent night out, accompanied by comments of a derogatory, insensitive and callous nature towards the participants!”

Asad Ali is a partner in law firm Blacks Solicitors and an active user of Twitter.  “We definitely disregard some candidates because of what we see online, but others come over as extremely professional and engaging in their social media and that counts as a plus."

Victoria Tomlinson agrees that social media also offers students and graduates a chance to stand out in the job market:  “Students are surprised when we say they should have a professional LinkedIn profile. Already a third of employers are recruiting by putting jobs online and searching for people on LinkedIn with the right skills and experience.”

Sarah Larby, classics student at Newcastle University, read the ebook and said:  “It’s helped me to see where I was going wrong with my online profiles – and how to change and improve them. I'd never seen Twitter as a way of targeting and interacting with businesses but this book explains it's an easy way to generate a relationship with a business you are interested in.”

 Written for students, careers advisers and parents, the ebook is practical and packed with tips and advice from employers and headhunters as well as examples of students successfully using social media to win a job.  It covers how to protect a student’s ‘personal digital footprint’; create a professional profile online; include keywords for Google; create LinkedIn and Twitter profiles; engage with employers online and write a blog to demonstrate passion for a career.