The Job Hunters

Britta Winans

‘Tis the season to apply for internships and jobs. Although it’s only fall, Villanova juniors and seniors, especially, are buckling down on their job applications and trying to secure positions with prospective employers.

Technology is often described as a beneficial and brilliant way of networking in order to find jobs; however, there are many hidden dangers that job seekers should be aware of before beginning their career hunt. It is important to maintain a clean and consistent image of yourself across all mediums, especially in a hyper-connected generation.

Modern day technology allows the world to stay connected in a variety of ways that can publicly display a person’s identity for better or worse. Between Facebook, Twitter, cell phones and e-mail, to name a few, people are invariably linked in a cyber space that is full of personal information.

While staying connected may seem to be the highest priority, students must realize that revealing personal information may have detrimental effects in the long run.

According to Oregon Biz Report, a CareerBuilder survey conducted in June 2009 involving 2,600 hiring employers, 45 percent of employers reported using social networking sites to research job candidates.

This number has more than doubled last year’s 22 percent. Biz Report says that another 11 percent plan to start using social networking sites for screening.

Biz Report also states that of those who conduct online searches and background checks of job candidates, 29 percent use Facebook, 26 percent use LinkedIn and 21 percent use MySpace. Eleven percent search blogs while 7 percent follow candidates on Twitter.

According the CBS News, 7.5 million college students have a Facebook account. Unfortunately, many college students post pictures that consist of partying and often involve lewd or illegal activities.

Many employers have learned ways to view supposedly “private” profiles of prospective employees’ Facebooks. Tim DeMello, owner of the internet company Ziggs, estimates that about 20 percent of companies are secretly scanning online profiles before they interview applicants. CBS News says that most students don’t realize that these party pictures make up their “online footprint” to the viewing world.

The economy is now so competitive that employers are taking every possible avenue in order to narrow down potential candidates. This is not to say that all employers spend their time screening Facebook. However, they are trying to learn all they possibly can about prospective employees.

Villanova’s own Nancy Dudak, director of Career Services, says, “Facebook screenings are definitely being done by employers. Students must be careful with the information that they are posting not only on Facebook, but on blogs and any other means of internet profiling as well.”

Dudak points out some red flags that encourage employers to disregard candidates: “Things like crude language, objectionable photos or Twittering something like “I hate my job” are all things that should be avoided. Employers know when certain applicants are students so they expect to find certain things.

But Villanova students have to realize that the information posted on these sites creates an impression of them and they have to be ready for any kind of judgment.”

Dudak also suggests that students should not have a less- than-professional answering machine. Cell phones are the most immediate way of getting a hold of someone. Therefore when employers start calling, they should reach a professional voicemail that represents a professional person. Voicemails should contain the name and phone number of the person being reached, and be brief and grammatically correct.

Emails should be professional looking as well. Dudak suggests using a Villanova or Gmail account in the professional world, especially to start out. Not only should your account name be professional, but your correspondences should also follow a formal order. Employers will disregard messages that are too colloquial or flowery. Nathan Newberger of suggests keeping it short and sweet, utilizing the subject line, and always concluding with a proper sign-off.

For networking purposes, Dudak recommends LinkedIn, a strictly professional networking site that acts as an online résumé. LinkedIn helps users to generate business and acquire important contact information while eliminating much of the personal information that sites like Facebook and Twitter reveal.

However, while LinkedIn is used by about 26 percent of employers, according to the CareerBuilder survey, to screen potential candidates, almost 30 percent of hiring managers said they preferred using Facebook to research new employees. Having a LinkedIn account does not make job seekers exempt from having their Facebook account scrutinized.

While sites like Facebook may seem “off-limits” for employers because it involves your private life, the line between a public and private life is blurred the moment personal information is posted on the Internet.

According to an article posted on, eMarketer Senior Analyst Debra Aho Williamson said it was increasingly important for employers to see how a potential new hire would act outside of work.

“Facebook is where people spend their personal time, and until the network finds a better way for people to segment what info outsiders can see, it’s all fair game for employers,” Williamson says.