networking tips

If you’re looking for a new job, the chances are that you’ve already got a few references in mind that you know you can count on to give you a glowing review when the time comes… but what if I told you that sometimes you don’t get to choose your references? And no, I’m not joking!

Starting to panic? You shouldn’t… at least not yet anyway! Let me explain…

When it comes to hiring new employees, employers make lots of checks on applicants and, as we’ve explained before, one of these checks includes browsing candidates’ social media profiles on things like LinkedIn and Twitter.

While that’s not new news as such, and you should have already read our post on cleaning your digital footprint and put it into action, you might be surprised to learn that simply looking at your activity is only half the story. What do I mean? Well, in addition to looking at what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to on these platforms, employers are also considering who you’re connected to and if you have any connections/followers in common.

Why? Well, because if you do have any mutual connections, the employer might be tempted to ask these connections how they know you and what their initial impressions of you are… OK, now’s the time to panic!

While not every employer does this and it could be classed as a breach of confidentiality, some definitely still do it – and in these situations, the employer will probably listen carefully to what their connection has to say about the candidate. That said, if the feedback is less complimentary, the employer might be tempted to discard a potential candidate altogether.

So, what should you do to ensure a reference from a non-preferred contact doesn’t cost you the job?

networking tips

1. Be Professional:

Whatever role you work in and whoever you come across, it’s always important to be professional and polite – even if someone’s desperately trying to cram their latest product down your neck on every platform going! Even if something doesn’t work out with a potential client or you feel you’ve been screwed over by someone, try and keep calm and think twice before posting or replying to someone – because, as we’ve just explained, it could come back to bite you on the bum at a time when you’d least expect it.

2. Think Twice Before Making A Connection:

Yes, yes – when it comes to job seeking, it’s all about having a big network and making the most of it – but as we’ve just mentioned, you don’t know when this connection might be called into question so if you’ve had a run-in with someone before and you suddenly get a LinkedIn connection from them, you might want to think twice before hitting that ‘Accept’ button. Remember, if the employer doesn’t know that you know that person, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ask them for a reference…

3. Tighten Up Your Network:

Have a look through your LinkedIn connections. Spotted any connections who would be less than complimentary about you if given the opportunity? It might be time to hit that ‘delete’ button… Yes, it may seem cruel – but would you rather lose them as a connection or keep them and have that worry that they might cost you a job opportunity later down the line?

As I said before, not every employer will go down the route of checking their connections against yours and asking for references – but some will – so it’s definitely important to bear this in mind when building your network and applying for jobs in the future.