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Your Online Footprint and Your Job Search!

Often, people look to LinkedIn, Plaxo, Naymz, Spoke, Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, Dice, and other “job / professional” sites for their job search and career. And they look to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other “fun” sites for their social life, thinking it’s all separate. What they have to remember is that they can ALL be image found through Google. Like it or not, what you say, do, and project on MySpace may get considered by the same people that look at your profile on LinkedIn!

Projecting a successful professional image on LinkedIn, or on your resume posted on CareerBuilder doesn't stand alone when being considered for a position. Pictures and/or comments on Facebook have an impact as well. The image you actually portray is a composite of your online footprint. A recent poll of HR professionals and hiring managers showed that more than half will Google prospective candidates at some point during the hiring process. Furthermore, 46% of those, have said that they have eliminated candidates based on what they found!

If you are in a job search, it’s important to Google yourself. Discover what’s out there that may be found by potential employers. You may be surprised at the results and where they come from:

  • Did you trash someone, or something, in a review on Amazon?
  • Did you write a controversial Letter to the Editor to a newspaper or other publication?
  • Did you add comments to an article on a news site?
  • Did you make comments on someone else’s blog?
  • Did you “Tweet” a raunchy post on Twitter?
  • Did you post a crude picture on MySpace or Facebook?
  • Do you have a personal website with ‘less than professional’ material?
  • Did you trash a former employer on a Chat site?

Any of these things may, or may not be damaging to you depending on the subjective opinion of the person looking. However, be aware that all of these items and more may appear in a Google search!

As a recruiter, I Google potential candidates for positions I’m working on for my client companies. I do it because I know my clients will most likely do it and I don’t want to be embarrassed later. I’ve had a candidate with a personal website that included links to their favorite porn sites. I know of people that brag online about how they’ve cheated their employer. Anywhere you may have been online, and anything you may have left behind can be, and often is found by Google. If you’re trash talking with friends online… think about whether you’re OK with a potential employer seeing it or not.

At the very least, be aware what’s out there so that you can address it if necessary. You may need to address it proactively because the employer is not likely to tell you that they found something objectionable. I once worked with someone that had not been online much, but discovered that when you Google his name (it’s a unique name), a producer of hard-core porn films had the same name! He had to bring it up proactively in interview processes (humorously) to assure potential employers it wasn’t him!

“Personal Branding” can be another term for “Reputation”, and today your reputation can be deduced more easily than ever. Be very aware, that there is no place to hide online. EVERYTHING you leave online can be brought to light and does have an impact on your potential job prospects!

3 comments:

Betsy Richards said...

Hi Harry,
This article is spot on! As a Career Management and Personal Branding Consultant I am always asking my clients "tell me what's out there about you" Reputation is EVERYTHING!

Kate Hutchinson said...

This is such a necessary step to take in your job search. I always take a peek at job applicants online, and while I understand you may like to go out for drinks and have parties, I don't like to see negative trash talk. I once threw out a promising resume because the person's Twitter stream was a long string of naming companies that had rejected him, with the company names linked. Forget it. A great tool to track your online footprint is to look up your name or username on www.socialmention.com. It will search social media outlets for mentions of keywords and can help you keep tabs on everything you've done.

On the other hand, you can't control the fact that someone may have the same name as you! My name is fairly common, and it's good to know if someone else is out there, possibly ruining your reputation. Try running your name/username through www.namecheck.com and you can see if someone else is online under your name and what they're saying. Then you can pre-emptively say something like, "By the way, please don't confuse me with the Jane Smith on Twitter who's an extreme mountain biker!"

Meaghan said...

If you are very active online then a search on Pipl.com is also helpful. This free search will uncover all your online activity and any personal information available online.

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