There’s little denying that the Internet has transformed the modern job market — and not only in the most obvious ways. Today’s employers and job candidates use the Web to find, research and generally vet one another, ensuring each finds the right match. The Internet can hurt your job hunt, too. According to a recent study from CareerBuilder, 43 percent of hiring managers say they found something in an applicant’s digital footprint that cost him or her the job. When used properly, however, the Internet can give job seekers a distinct advantage over less diligent career competition.

Research companies online

Using the Web to research a company before a job interview can help candidates sound well-informed and concerned about a company and its success, reports Examiner. This can set one apart from the sea of hopefuls vying for the same position. Job seekers might consider using Google to learn more about a company, as well as its competitors. Visiting a company’s website or social media profiles can tell one what a firm does, as can company blogs and press releases that emphasize the latest company news, successes and other points of pride. Publicly traded companies will have published annual financial statements that offer a great deal of insight about what the company has achieved and where it might be headed. Examiner advises job seekers to consult sites like, which features employee reviews of a company, specific interview questions from past candidates and detailed salary information. According to U.S. News & World Report, a candidate’s goal is to walk away from a research session knowing what a company does and what sets it apart from its competition.

Get to know interviewers (without becoming a stalker)

Another way the Web can give job hunters an edge is by allowing them to research interviewers. According to CBS Moneywatch, smart interviewees will look up their interviewers on social media and networking sites like LinkedIn before the big day so that they know who they are dealing with. If candidates do not know who will be interviewing them, Moneywatch recommends calling HR beforehand and asking. When conducting research, job hopefuls should make note of job titles, shared acquaintances and similar hobbies that can ease small talk — and make you more memorable. One should be careful not to cross the divide between concerned applicant and Internet stalker, warns Quartz, which advises against discussing interviewers’ families, relationship statuses and anything wild they may have done in their college years.

“Everyone Googles,” Ginny Manocha, marketing and accounts director at the careers and recruitment platform Brazen Careerist, told Quartz, but “your goal is not to be their friend, you’re focused on selling yourself as a smart candidate.”

Clean up your digital footprint

It’s important to remember that just as candidates research potential employers and colleagues, firms are doing precisely the same thing. When a company finds a candidate’s inappropriate photos online, or social media or blog posts that include foul language or excessive typos, it may very well count against him. Job hopefuls can avoid this by researching their own digital footprints and, to the extent that they can, removing anything that might reflect poorly on them.

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