MySpace, Facebook, blogs, online forums, You Tube, Flickr . . . just a place to relax and be yourself online, right? Just a few places to connect with friends and share something of yourself with the world.
Well, yes. But what if “the world” includes a future employer? Because chances are, it may.
According to research results found by ExecuNet, which is a career and business networking organization, about 83% of companies they surveyed are using the web to figure out if potential hires really are as great as they come across on those carefully crafted resumes we all have. In fact, 43% of these companies say that they would eliminate candidates from the hiring pool based on what they see online.
Think about it – is there anything online about you that you wouldn’t want an employer to see? Maybe some crazy party photos that might freak out a potential employer. Maybe a blog post about how much you hate your current job and boss. Maybe your MySpace username is a little on the risque side or your Facebook profile picture is somewhat shocking.
It could even be photos somebody ELSE has posted of you! Something you have little to no control over could be causing problems in a job hunt.
Or what if you’re a regular commenter in a forum on something that you might not want an employer to know about?
There are all sorts of places an employer might be looking, starting by just googling your name. What is going to pop up? Is it going to make you look good, or make you look unprofessional and like a risky choice of a hire? It’s not against the law. It’s publicly available info.
Well, if you want to manage your online persona to make sure that if and when somebody DOES google you, they see the information you prefer them to, here are a few tips:
- Google yourself. On a variety of search engines, type in your name (and location, if your name is really common) and see what pops up.
- Turn your privacy settings ON! If you have MySpace or Facebook and more info than you would like is accessible to anyone who looks at your profile, then make sure you use privacy settings to keep things personal. Same with blog posts.
- Get a username. If you are posting on a forum about something you’d rather keep private, then don’t use your full name (not that most people would, but just in case!) Stay anonymous.
- Post some good things about yourself! Nothing wrong with purchasing a domain name where you keep honest and professional information about yourself posted.
- Be careful about your friends who are online. If they are going to post stuff about you that you aren’t comfortable having visible to others, then don’t allow them access to that kind of info if you can help it. If they’re good friends, ask them to use their judgment when posting stuff about you, and they should be willing to comply.
What if there is stuff out there that is less than ideal? Well, don’t freak out. Be proactive. Try to post a bunch of stuff that is more complimentary: for example, a LinkedIn profile that confirms your resume information, a blog where you discuss your above-board hobbies and interests or volunteer experiences, etc.
Be honest, too! If you’re submitting a resume claiming that you’ve done something, and an employer could confirm that by doing a little online research – well, make sure that they will be able to find some evidence of it!
You can always prepare yourself as well. If you get to an interview and are asked about some of these things, make sure you are ready to answer. For example, you could say “Well, I did volunteer at this place, but they don’t include volunteer names on their website for security purposes” if that is the case.
Be your own PR person. Do your research on yourself, and expect that somebody who is looking to hire might be doing the same. Then take what measures you can to ensure your online persona is positive where easily accessible and private or anonymous if you choose to keep it that way.
Thanks to jobpostings magazine for the information! (jobpostings.ca)