Construction careers caught in social media minefield

Published:  18 February, 2015

A traditional CV is no longer enough to satisfy many employers in the construction industry, according to new research from specialist recruiter Randstad CPE.

While 53% of employers in this sector say this would be the only factor they take into account when considering a candidate, 24% would conduct a general internet search for a candidate’s name and 20% would look for a candidate’s LinkedIn profile.

The findings also show that only 12% of applicants actually find the time to tailor both their CV and their LinkedIn profile when applying for a new job – lower than the 15% who manage this in the general UK workforce.

Owen Goodhead, managing director of Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering, warned of some of the pitfalls of using social media for job applications. “LinkedIn can be as much a hazard as an advantage to job candidates,” he said. “Securing the right new role is all about presenting the best evidence and experience to back up your enthusiasm. So if a candidate puts too much detailed information on LinkedIn or other sites, then they often run a risk of appearing irrelevant.”

Mr Goodhead’s advice is to opt for a summary online and save the specific details for tailored applications.

“Geography matters too,” he added. “A quantity surveyor based in the South West might be perfectly willing to move to Scotland for a new job, but if their LinkedIn profile contains a detailed history of roles in only one corner of the country, that might put off employers based elsewhere. In general and whatever the role, finding a new job must be about tailoring a specific application.”

Another potential danger of social media is the amount of personal information that is publicly available. If all of their social media postings had been visible to their employer, 51% of employees in construction, property and engineering positions doubt they would have been offered their current job. Of these, one in ten said a new employer would definitely not hire them if all the privacy settings on their social media were turned off.

Overall, 20% of all UK workers are at least a little concerned about their employer looking them up on their social media, but for those in construction-related fields this stands at 23%. In particular, one in three property professionals (32%) are at least mildly concerned about bosses searching their profiles, while at 21% and 22% respectively, engineers and construction workers were also more likely than the general workforce to be worried about their employers’ social media snooping.

Mr Goodhead concluded: “Social media has blurred the lines between personal and professional lives. That isn’t necessarily a problem for those who are close friends with all their existing colleagues and not thinking about moving, but for those open to new offers, there is a real advantage in presenting the best possible aspects of their personality and experience.

“On the more informal social media channels, privacy settings are vital in preserving a professional image for the wider world. Professional networks like LinkedIn also require caution. There is a subtle balance to be made – not having a profile at all might be seen as a little backward, but on the other hand, including too much information might clash with an employer’s detailed checklist for a specialist role.”

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