When the Job Hunt Meets the Campaign Trail


Memo to all the freshly minted college graduates entering the job market this summer: To land your dream position, model your online presence less like a job candidate and more like a political candidate.

Brenda Berkelaar, an assistant professor at UT Austin’s Moody College of Communication, coauthored a study that found that employers tend to select applicants whose web personas reflect qualities similar to those encountered on the campaign trail.

A recent Forbes article profiled the findings, outlining several factors that hiring managers consider when combing through candidates’ profiles. Some highlights:

Employers want to see LinkedIn and Facebook posts, pictures and other information demonstrating a personality that is creative, curious, friendly and stable, that shows that the person is able to take charge of a situation. …

Employers also want candidates’ online image to match their personalities offline and they don’t want to see people trying to hide or evade a negative experience, like a failed project. …

Employers also care about who your LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends are. The more high-status and influential, the better. Being connected to the wrong people can do damage. Says the paper, “connectivity with inappropriate networks doomed job candidates, much as negative connections or endorsements can derail political campaigns.”

Hiring managers prefer candidates to demonstrate that they spend their time away from work on pursuits that show seriousness, sophistication and maturity, like cooking or wine tasting.

Just as voters want politicians to be family-focused and wholesome, employers want candidates to demonstrate mainstream values in their online postings. … “Online information should convey a pious, almost puritanical image, evidencing professionalism and responsibility,” says the paper.

So, if you follow those guidelines, you might find yourself in the running for a new office.


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