Monday, March 29, 2010

Looking for a Job: Start by Cleaning your Online Reputation

Many college students are taking time this week to get into all kinds of debauchery while on Spring Break. For seniors, returning back to campus will find graduation approaching followed by looking for work in a less than flattering job market. Perhaps photos and descriptions of what happened on Spring Break may be best kept off of the Internet and out of the prying eyes of future employers. As a matter of fact, keeping all private information off the Internet is a good rule of thumb when looking for a job.

A 2009 study by Microsoft found that 79% of employers have said they have looked up potential applicants online prior to hiring. On top of that, 70% have stated that they have rejected candidates based on their findings.

High schoolers, don't think that you are out of the woods here. The more prestigious the college, the more they will use the same tactics to weed out potential troublemakers prior to acceptance into their program.

What to do?
Start out simple. Plug your name in quotes in the big three search engines, Yahoo!, Bing, and Google. See what comes up. If you have a common name like I do, you may want to throw a little bit more information in the search query such as the state you live (outside of the quotes). If you have used your middle name, etc. search that way as well.

Maybe plug in some other information, search for your e-mail address, phone number, even address. These are common things that perspective employers will have in front of them from your resume.

Did you find very little about yourself that could be incriminating?
Good. Now keep it that way and make it part of your routine to check up on your online presence at least monthly. Most employers have a six month "probationary period". They may do this check again at the end of the six months.

Did you find some things that you may not want the prying eyes of a potential college recruiter or employer to find?
Get rid of it. Go to the site that is hosting this information and write the site's Webmaster. Ask them to take down the comment you may have made or to remove any pictures or blog post that may involve you.

What about Facebook?
While you may feel that the default settings are fine, I would recommend making some changes to tighten them up. Doing some simple searching with some of the default security functions, I was able to do a search for a random name and could see the following:

- The individual's profile picture.
- The individual's friends, and more importantly their friend's profile pictures (just because your picture is pristine doesn't mean it won't play a role of what your friends are doing. You can have a picture of you sitting on a pew in church but just to the right is a picture of your Facebook friend polishing a beer bong and you will be guilty by association).
- Pages that the individual is a fan of (so being a fan of 'If you've ever called peach a slut while playing mario kart 64' may not be the best call).

I have two GeekyClown posts that you need to read to start out with:

1.) The most important thing is to keep Google from searching your Facebook page so you do not come up in their results - Tell Google to Stop Searching your Facebook Page. This page also details how to turn Facebook's search results to 'Only Friends' so they can't go into Facebook and search for you.

2.) Switch all of your privacy settings to 'Only Friends'. You can do that here - Update your Facebook Privacy Already. This will keep photos of you posted by others who may have tagged you out of the eyes of anyone you haven't become friends with.

NOTE: Once you get the job, be very careful who you become friends with on social networking sites. You don't want to invite your private and personal information into the work place. If you get that coworker friend request just ignore it and if they ask about it, tell them you don't ever use it and didn't even know that you got requested.

What about Twitter?
Twitter has more risk since anyone can follow you without you even knowing much about them. My recommendation would be to simply keep your personal name out of Twitter. Make your Twitter name something that is unique but not easily recognizable via Twitter. You can change it through the settings. If you feel it is important to keep your name on Twitter easily recognizable, protect your Tweets under the settings so that only people you approve will be able to see your Tweets.

Following this will keep employers from seeing your activities to keep you from getting that job or into college. Now, anything you do offline is up to you and common sense.

No comments:

Post a Comment