Do you have any examples?
We work with a lot of online media companies. One of those clients was looking for a developer, not just a coder, someone that offered a bit more to the role, someone more interesting and original. We had a candidate that was a rapper, a music video rapper. The client went to the candidate's YouTube site and found the candidate's personal information and rap video very original and creative in terms of music and other personal interests -- attributes beyond his job qualifications and technical skills. It was a very positive representation for that candidate. The client saw that his creativity would translate well to their online media company and be able to provide what they needed to produce for their clients. It was more about looking at the person as a whole as opposed to a one-dimensional piece of paper that has their credentials. It's not really about that anymore.
What if you aren't a rapper or you don't have art to display?
It is also very important to not only talk about your education and work experience, but also what you did at the school or university or former employer, such as social clubs or teams you were involved in. And always remember to be human and relatable. These sites are about humans trying to connect with each other so you have to put that human element forward. Social networking is another sales tool, another way to showcase the best attributes you have.
How can putting personal information on social networking sites hurt a candidate's job search efforts?
There are a lot of don'ts in terms of what you want to do with your profile. People are definitely more aware of what they are putting on their sites, giving some people the ability to look at some things and keeping some aspects private. I think now people are becoming much smarter because they might have had pictures of themselves up partying in college and now they know that it can be seen and found by potential employers and that the information they post there can be applicable to their professional lives.
In terms of things not to do, don't post a lot of personal pictures of questionable taste. My rule of thumb is if my mum couldn't see it, I wouldn't put it up there. You also have to be careful who you link to and who you accept in your profiles because people go beyond and look deeper into who those connections are. If you have political or social views, you want to keep that to a minimum because you never know how a potential employer could interpret those, especially if it is a bank or a financial institution, for instance. Your personal beliefs are your own and potential employers likely wouldn't ask that question in an interview, but if it is posted for the world to see, you have to be aware that the information could help or potentially hurt you.
How could personal beliefs hurt a person's chances at getting a job?
One example I can share. We had a situation that we posted for a position. The résumé for this candidate included phenomenal credentials and great experience, but the recruiter manager also did a search on Facebook. The candidate's theme was predominantly Satanic and that didn't work for the hiring organization's culture.