Beware of what you post online and make sure you’re comfortable with it being made public. Recruiters and prospective employers are reviewing people’s online profiles on social networks to learn a bit more about the character of individuals.

Service providers positioned at the forefront of credentials verification say users must be careful with information that they are prepared to make public and adjust the level of security accordingly on their social network profiles.

Information lies at the heart of the issue. Employers are using every resource possible to ensure that they recruit the right person for the job. While they are in a position to review the credentials of candidates, they have little to go on to in terms of an individual’s true character.

They may not always feel that they have a complete image of a candidate – even after an interview.

Competition for jobs and resources is such that people can ill-afford any blemishes to their public profiles.

Specialists at Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), a credentials verification services provider, emphasise that a profile on Facebook, for example, is a public profile and people must understand the distinction between a CV submitted to a prospective employer and online information.

According to MIE these two resources are used and viewed differently by employers. A person’s CV offers the prospective employer information the candidate wants them to know, while online profiles will give them insight into the type of person a candidate is.

“It is important to remember that there is no such thing as ‘private information online’. Anything posted is generally available for anyone to view – unless specific security measures are implemented to ensure some level of privacy. But, friends may repost statements made and therein lies the risk,” says Ina van der Merwe, CEO at MIE.

“A person tends to forget about the “friends of friends” on an online profile too- these friends’ contacts may be accessing your profile, and there is no way of knowing where they work, and where your comments are being repeated.”

The fact is that continuous negative comments posted about work or an employer will leave a negative impression – as will contentious or controversial pictures or information says Van der Merwe.

“There is no doubt that social networking has had a profound impact on surfing habits and what people are actually looking for online. It is entirely logical that recruiters and employers would look into people’s profiles to find out more information about candidates, specifically to find out if they are a ‘likely fit’ with the organisation or company,” Van der Merwe adds.

The social network arena looks set to grow and will continue to impact on communication, information transfer and interaction – especially in the recruitment arena.