Risky Online Practices May Leave the Class of 2013 Jobless

A survey by online privacy company Abine reveals that most 2013 graduates don't spend enough time cleaning up their online presence as they search for jobs

May 13, 2013, 09:00 ET from Abine

BOSTON, May 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Hiring managers are Googling potential job candidates and it seems they are likely to find the good, the bad and the downright embarrassing, according to a survey of Class of 2013 graduates conducted by Abine, Inc., online privacy leader and makers of DoNotTrackMe.

While LinkedIn, Facebook, and other online accounts provide an opportunity for graduates to impress hiring managers, the survey shows that many graduates are spending time on their traditional resumes and neglecting a new, but important part of the image they present to prospective employers: their online presence. Although 69 percent of the class doesn't yet have a job lined up, only 16 percent are spending time proactively improving their web presence.

Sixty percent of graduates are not concerned about their online profiles affecting their ability to secure or keep a job, but experts in the field say researching a job candidate's online presence has become standard practice and many have rejected candidates because of the personal content they find.

"Many graduates, and older workers as well, overestimate the role of the resume and underestimate the role of online research or networking in the job search process," said Keith Cline, Principal, Dissero, LLC. "The reality is that your online presence plays an increasingly large role in whether you are considered for a job, and candidates who don't take that seriously may jeopardize their job searches."

The survey revealed that new job seekers are skipping simple steps they can take to improve their online presence, such as keeping their social networking profiles clean and professional or removing unwanted personal information from data broker websites. Of those surveyed:

  • More than two-thirds only Google themselves once per year or less, leaving them unaware of how they appear to hiring managers during the application process, even though more than one-fourth of survey respondents have found a search result about themselves that they wish they could delete.
  • Nearly half (49 percent) have not adjusted their Facebook settings to approve photo tags or posts, potentially allowing others to post inappropriate content to their profiles.
  • While 90 percent of survey respondents claim to be careful about what they put online, 35 percent have posted comments containing profanity, more than 30 percent have posted comments or pictures about alcohol and seven percent have posted content about illegal behavior. 
  • Graduates in Midwestern states were more likely to post inappropriate content online than graduates from anywhere else in the country.
  • 30 percent of all respondents have not changed their behavior on social media as their graduation day approaches.
  • 84 percent have never created positive content, like a professional website, to improve their online search results. In fact, a majority (52 percent) do not have LinkedIn accounts, despite 73 percent saying that the networking site was important to a person's job search, and only 38 percent of LinkedIn users use their real names on the site.
  • On average, graduates report spending 12 hours preparing their physical resume, but just four hours making sure the search results for their names look good to potential employers.

Abine, the makers of the privacy solutions DoNotTrackMe and DeleteMe, launched an online calculator this week to help determine their own job search risk by generating a hireability grade, as well as five easy tips to improve their online presence during a job search. The calculator is a fun, interactive way to get graduates and others thinking about their presence online and doing more to protect themselves from privacy pitfalls as they prepare to enter the job market or change careers.

"The huge amount of online data that exists about all consumers has growing consequences, from employment to price discrimination," said William Kerrigan, Abine CEO. "Luckily, today's graduates have access to technology that lets them put their best foot forward during a job search without unnecessarily curtailing the online activities they enjoy."

The 503-respondent survey was conducted from May 2-7, 2013 on Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Respondents self-identified as 2013 graduates in the U.S. with undergraduate, graduate, technical, or vocational degrees.

About Abine

Abine provides consumers with online privacy solutions that are innovative, easy to use, and work for everyday web users. With proven tools, Abine enables people to both benefit from the Web and retain control over their personal information. Abine is backed by premier venture capital firms Atlas Venture and General Catalyst Partners. Abine: Online Privacy Starts Here™. Abine.com.

Kirsten Simmons
RF|Binder Partners