What were some of your New Year’s resolutions coming into 2013?
In the event you find yourself job hunting, was one of those resolutions to check out your online footprints? If not, you could be setting yourself up for a major disappointment.
Whether you find yourself looking to change jobs or just find a position to begin with, there are some things you need to focus on, especially when it comes to what your online activities say about you. Quite frankly, even one online comment or image could cost you a job with this or that employer.
According to a 2011 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, 73 percent of businesses claim that when reviewing applicant’s social media pages, they do not allow the applicants an opportunity to “explain questionable information.”
Meantime, a 2009 CareerBuilder study reported that 35 percent of hiring managers say they had turned away candidates once having discovered objectionable material. Such items included photos of doing drugs, saying negative comments about prior employers and lying when it came to their qualifications for the position.
So, what are the dangers to you when it comes to your online reputation, especially when searching for a job?
Among the items to remember:
1. Be cognizant of what you say – Even the simplest of comments can be misconstrued or deemed to be hurtful towards others, so watch what you say online. If you are having issues with a current boss or coworker, turning to Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to vent can be very dangerous. You not only look unprofessional in doing so, but a potential employer may deem you not fit for his or her office culture, thereby denying you a chance at job. If you think the comment is at all controversial, better you leave it inside your head and don’t let your fingers do the talking on a keyboard or cell phone;
2. Pictures say a thousand words – Another major online gaffe is when you post a photo that is deemed too risque and/or inappropriate for others to see. If you are at or hosting a party, posting pictures of you or others drunk, in questionable poses, or doing something illegal sends a message to potential employers. Not only may you be a bad fit for the company’s overall office culture, but you are also likely lacking good judgment. An employer may think that if you use bad judgment online, can that same judgment carry over to dealing with customers? If you don’t want your mom to see the photo, chances are a potential employer should not either;
3. Leave the past where it belongs – How many times over the years have you had a run-in with an employer, be it over decision making, pay, etc? Chances are it is happened to you at one time or another, maybe even recently. So, don’t you think you should leave it right there in the past? Unfortunately, too many individuals take to their social media sites to rant about the experience. When that happens, they give pause to a potential employer to hire them. That prospective employer may actually take someone with less qualifications who appears to be a better fit for their office, leaving the other individual out in the cold because of their comments. If you have to rant about an employer, do it where no one can follow your online footprints;
4. Schedule a checkup – Finally, you hopefully visit your doctor from time to time to get checked out; same should apply with your online reputation. Whether a company or individual has posted personal information online about you or you forgot about a comment or photo you posted in the past, it is important to periodically check your name out online. Simply Google your name to see what information comes up. If there is anything negative floating around, work to remove it, or at least move down on the search engines. Whether you do it or turn to a service provider who works to repair online reputations, it should not go unchecked. Otherwise, a prospective employer could get wind of it, denying you the opportunity to even get your foot in the door for an interview.
With all the positive ways that the Internet can be used to assist you in your job search, don’t let a simple miscue on your part ruin your chances of getting the job you truly desire.
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business and career topics for various websites, including reputation management services.