Construction, engineering and property workers are at risk from the unintended perils of LinkedIn when applying for a new job, according to new research from specialist recruiter Randstad CPE.

Only 12% actually find the time to tailor both their CV and their LinkedIn profile when applying for a new job. This is even lower than the 15% who manage this in the general UK workforce.

A traditional CV is no longer enough to satisfy the curiosity of employers in these industries; with barely half (53%) saying this would be the only factor they take into account when considering a candidate. This is even more of a shift away from the traditional CV than the average UK employer, with 57% of employers in other industries considering just the traditional application format.

A quarter of employers in construction-related fields (24%) would conduct a general internet search for a candidate’s name. Following closely, LinkedIn is particularly important for these industries, with one in five (20%) saying they would look for a candidate’s LinkedIn profile – considerably more than the 14% of employers elsewhere in the UK jobs market who would do the same.

This makes LinkedIn more important for construction, property and engineering workers than any other social networks – ahead of Facebook, which 19% of industry employers would investigate, while just 4% would consider the Twitter profiles of job applicants.

As a result, those working in construction-related fields are more likely than the average UK employee to have a LinkedIn account – with two thirds (66%) registered on LinkedIn compared to 55% of all employees in the UK.

Owen Goodhead, MD of Randstad Construction, Property & Engineering, comments: “LinkedIn can be as much a hazard as an advantage to job candidates.  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 – especially if they only rarely update and tailor their profiles to every given opportunity.

“With such a small proportion actually keeping full track of their online presence, the best approach might be to opt for more of a summary online, and save the best specific details for tailored applications.

“An electrician with decades of experience in maintenance roles would be more than able to prove themselves on a new building site. But if they pigeon hole themselves online, often it can prove just as unhelpful as sending through a CV with entirely the wrong focus.

“Geography matters too – 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, then that might put off employers based elsewhere.  In general and whatever the role, finding a new job must be about tailoring a specific application.  Too much detail online can be a real hazard.”

Social media slip-ups

If all of their social media postings had been visible to their employer, a majority of employees in construction, property and engineering positions (51%) doubt whether they would have been offered their current job.

Of these, one in ten (11%) say they would definitely not be hired by a new employer if all the privacy settings on their social media were turned off, while 40% are unsure. Less than half (49%) believe that without privacy settings on their other social media profiles, they would definitely have been able to secure a job.

Particular pitfalls threaten workers in construction, property and engineering industries. The biggest concern is the risk of causing offense due to controversial posts, with 27% considering this as a threat to their future career. This is ahead of just 24% of the wider UK workforce who share the same worries.

Second on the list of social media slip-ups are inappropriate pictures, for one in five (20%) of those in construction-related jobs. However this is less of a worry than in the general UK workforce, where one in four or 25% of employees are concerned about inappropriate social media images.

Bad grammar and spelling online are another reason to be fearful about employers’ unfettered access to social media, according to 17% of construction, engineering and property employees. This is slightly more than 16% across the whole workforce.

Finally, being caught ‘pulling a sickie’ was a worry for 18%, again slightly more than 16% for all UK workers.

As a result, workers in construction-related fields are twice as likely to be seriously concerned about their employers reviewing their social media profile than others. One in ten (10%) say this is as a ‘big worry’, compared with one in twenty (5%) in the general workforce.

"privacy settings are vital in preserving a professional image"

Overall, one in five (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.

Owen Goodhead concludes: “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.”