by Robin Ferrier
It used to be easy. A company asked for references. You provided the names and contact information of those people you knew would say good things about you. Simple, right?
In case you didn’t realize it, in today’s social media-permeated world of LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter, it’s a lot easier for a hiring manager to get the “unofficial” scoop on potential job candidates. And it’s being done. I promise.
Just to prove my point, here’s an example from my personal life that supports this theory, even if it doesn’t involve a hiring situation. One of my colleagues was looking to connect with someone from a local biotech company. They asked if I knew anywhere there. I didn’t. However, a quick search on the company’s name via LinkedIn showed that I had a 2nd degree connection to someone from that company. A simple email to my connector point and a few days later I had a lunch meeting set up with that 2nd degree connection. It was that easy.
And if it was that easy (and quick) for me to make that connection, you can bet that recruiters and hiring managers are doing the same thing to check up on you and your past. They’re doing it to check up on how well you did at your internships, your summer jobs, your college activities…
So what does this mean?
- It means you’d better work your a** off – and look to prove yourself – at everything you do, even when you’re “only” in college or “only” working a summer job. And even if that summer job is “only” manual labor.
- It means you’d better conduct yourself professionally when you’re leaving a company for your second job. (And yes, there is a right and a wrong way to give notice and leave a job. More on that in another post.)
- And it means information you think is private online isn’t. Because who knows if a friend of mine is a friend of yours and has access to your supposedly private pictures or musings on Facebook. (Of course, if you haven’t picked up on that fact yet, maybe you should just stop reading now!)
- And it means that all bets are off when it comes to references these days.
Disconcerting? Yes. But it’s reality. And it’s just another reason you’d better realize that what you do = who you are = your personal brand = your reputation = your chances of getting hired.
And it makes me all the happier that all this social media hoopla didn’t exist when I was leaving college!
Robin Ferrier is the editor of What’s Next, Gen Y? and Communications Manager for the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. She is also the President of the Capital Communicators Group and the co-chair of the Marketing Committee for the Tech Council of Maryland. She has inadvertently become a frequent career / professional / job hunt resource for friends and colleagues due to a career path that has included five jobs in 12 years.Google+