Just as you search online to learn about potential employers, many employers are looking online to learn more about you. Employers will often research candidates before or during the interview process. It is important that you are aware of the implications that your online presence may have on your reputation and employment prospects.
Recruiters regularly search for applicants on social and professional networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. They are looking to see if there is something about a candidate’s lifestyle that the employer might find questionable or contrary to the core values of the organization.
If you have a page on a social networking site think about CONTEXT and CONTENT. What may be amusing to you or your friends may very well be in poor taste or demonstrate poor judgment to prospective employers and faculty (should you need a recommendation). Hobbies mentioned on these sites are often inappropriate and can taint an employer’s first impression. Your online reputation may not only prevent you from getting the job, but you may never get the interview in the first place. Doubts may be raised about your judgment and professionalism. As you can imagine, employers are concerned with issues like professionalism and sexual harassment.
A good rule of thumb: if you don’t want the Dean to see it, it shouldn’t be on there! Keep in mind that you may have limited ability to control your online reputation because of photographs posted of you on other sites or blogs written about you by someone else.
STEPS STUDENTS SHOULD TAKE:
1. Google yourself – Do you know what is on the web associated with your name? Do you know what is associated with your email address? Be sure to do a blog search as well (www.blogsearch.google.com).
2. If you don’t like what you find, and you have not posted it, there are a couple of things to do: set up a Google Alert; work with a subscription service; participate in Google bombing to reorder items that appear in a Google search so that the better ones are near the top and the less desirable drop down further in the search. One of the easiest tools for tracking what Google knows about a topic is Google Alert.
3. Educate yourself about the privacy settings on your own web pages. For example, who can view your page? Who can place content on your page? Does that content need to be approved by you before posting?
4. If you use a networking site like Facebook or LinkedIn, update your page to reflect your job search image. Be sure you are using a professional picture and professional language. Clean up your page even if you aren’t using your own name. There are ways to find out who it really is even if you are hiding out behind a nondescript screen name. Be aware that anything posted online, even to a site that offers limited password protection, is information that can potentially be accessed by anyone at anytime and forever. Think about it like this--posting information online is like getting a tattoo: be prepared for it to be out there forever and for people to see it who you may not want to see it.