Study: Job seekers need to consider their online profiles

July 12, 2013 at 6:10 PM
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EVANSTON, Ill., July 12 (UPI) -- With more employers checking social media websites when considering job applicants, young job seekers should consider their privacy settings, a U.S. study says.

Researchers at Northwestern University say they found found that among young adults, men, Hispanics and those with lower Internet skills were the least likely to keep employment-related audiences in mind when it comes to setting up their online profiles.

In contrast, women, whites and those with higher Internet skills are more likely to actively manage their social media privacy settings as they seek a job or maintain employment, a university release reported Friday.

"Young people could benefit from understanding the implications of these issues," said study lead author Eszter Hargittai, a professor of communications studies. "Without adequate privacy settings, inappropriate pictures or comments posted on a social media profile could be seen by an employer and cost you a job opportunity."

There may be a need for more formal training from career service organizations, libraries and others on best practices for maintaining self-presentation online, Hargittai said.

"Managing the privacy of your social media profiles can be complex," she said. "A site's settings can change quickly, and if you are not keeping track and checking in on your settings regularly, you could inadvertently leave parts of your profile open to the public even if you had set them to more restricted access earlier."

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