It’s not always what you know about your Internet profile that can keep you from getting a job (or worse, get you fired). Sometimes what you don’t know can hurt you as well. Being tagged in photos, having things posted about you, even someone with a similar name (and ugly Internet profile) can hurt you. The key is to stay on top of your Internet presence and actively manage it.
As many job hunters find out over time, it just takes one wrong posting on the Internet, be it a comment, image or video, and they are left out when it comes to interviews and getting the desired job. Except for the smallest companies, a large percentage of hiring companies now do a basic Internet check on candidates. Many employers are asking for Facebook passwords (although there is a push by many States to ban this). According to a 2014 CareerBuilder.com survey (survey), 46% of job candidates had “posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information” while 41% had “posted information about them drinking or using drugs”.
It should not come as a surprise to job applicants that their online reputations do in fact matter as companies do not want their names and reputations associated with individuals who don’t have the best judgement.
According to a 2015 report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), more than 92% of employers use LinkedIn to check on their candidates and 74% check Facebook.
What You Can Do:
- Live by the saying “Never do anything that you wouldn’t want to explain to your Mother”.
- Google Yourself – Yeah, I know this is the first thing you thought of. But there is more you can do. In addition to running a search on yourself, setup a Google Alert (google.com/alerts). This will automatically send alerts to you based on the criteria in the alert (and hopefully they are few and far between unless it is good news).
- Clean-up your Social Media Presence – Search for yourself on Facebook and other social media (Facebook, etc.) and clean-up whatever you can. Facebook (and some other social media sites) have built-in content removal tools. Use these.
- Good Replaces Bad: Once you’ve cleaned up as much as you can, start to build a positive Internet profile. The more you post (across different sites) the more you dilute the bad stuff. You can also start a blog and post stuff related to your industry (like articles on Finance if that is your background).
Keep Yourself “Clean” –
- Watch what you post – While you may like spending time on social media and in online forums, it just takes one mistake to cause issues. If any comments and/or images seem that they may stir even the least bit of controversy, definitely rethink posting them. As more employers turn to social media to screen job applicants, you could find yourself to be the unlucky one, leaving you out in the cold for an interview. If you have second thoughts about anything – don’t do it.
- Watch who your online friends are – It may seem innocent enough to you to be following or having folks follow you that may have some questionable personalities. Keep in mind, however, a prospective employer may think otherwise. If you are following or being followed by some in areas such as gambling or X-rated material, it could make you look bad, especially when it comes to judgment calls. If a prospective employer doubts your ability to make judgment calls, you could find yourself not even getting in the door for an interview.
- Watch what others say about you – Finally, you may be oblivious to things being posted about you on the Internet, so periodically Google your name to see what is going on. Some companies take personal data and post it to the Internet, information like addresses, income, divorces, legal matters and more. In the event such information gets out there about you, your online reputation could take a hit without you knowing it. Always go under the assumption that it is better to be safe than sorry, especially when you are searching for a new job.
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Good luck in your search,