A recent survey claims that 1 in 5 employers in the USA check up on candidates via social networks. Should you be worried about your reputation online?

People Search Magnifying Glass

8 findings that are scaring companies away

According to this article about the survey, “the top areas of concern found on social networking sites include:

  1. Information about alcohol or drug use (41% of managers said this was a top concern)
  2. Inappropriate photos or information posted on a candidate's page (40%)
  3. Poor communication skills (29%)
  4. Bad-mouthing of former employers or fellow employees (28%)
  5. Inaccurate qualifications (27%)
  6. Unprofessional screen names (22%) (a classic resume mistake)
  7. Notes showing links to criminal behavior (21%)
  8. Confidential information about past employers (19%)”

What to do before employers find you online

Employers don't usually search with the hopes of finding something negative about you. The opposite is true- they're looking to confirm the information on your resume and hoping to find more proof that you're a good candidate who really can help their company. However, employers can't predict how their search will end.

But you can.

  1. Everything on the Internet can be found if someone is really determined to find it. Google caches (keeps copies of) websites for months and the Internet Archive keeps copies of webpages for years. Here's what Yahoo looked like on October 17th, 1996. However…
  2. People can't find what isn't there. Keep the above 8-point list in mind whenever you comment, blog, post a video, upload pictures of yourself or contribute to the Internet in any other way.
  3. See what employers will discover about you before beginning a job search (or now, better late than never). Use the same websites that employers might use to find out about you. Google your name and search for it on social networks that are popular where your employer is. Here's another reference in French but you'll recognize names like MySpace and Facebook.
  4. Decide how to react once you know which results employers will see. Try to clean up any sites that will leave a negative impression and improve the sites that will leave a positive one. For example, clean up your profiles on the social networks that you use or have used in the past. The order these sites appear in the search results is the way to determine priorities.

Look for an upcoming article here on JobMob with more details and advice on how to find and track what's being said about you online so that you can take preventive action and be ready with good answers to potentially embarrassing interview questions.

Should it even matter?

Everyone makes mistakes and does things they regret later. Should you pay the consequences for those actions years after the fact? Is that fair?

If you liked this article, you'll enjoy the 200+ Resources and Tips To Help Manage Your Reputation Online.

Active online? Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter for information on how to optimize your Web reputation.

Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.
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    This sort of thing needs to be taken into account when employers start judging applicants based on what they can find on the internet. The old addage, “don’t believe anything you read and only half of what you see” holds true, even in the Digital Age.

  • […] understand that although posts can be deleted nothing can be truely erased. A recent blogpost on JobMob by Jacob Share stated that the […]

  • […] A bad, brand-destroying user name, like one that hints of anything an employer would shy away from in the professional space: sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. Unless you actually want to work in one of those industries, this kind of user name might seem funny or cute at the time but it can easily come back to haunt you as a reputation-buster in a recruiter’s candidate-checking Google search. […]

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