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 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!


Harry Urschel has over 20 years experience as a technology recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives and writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search.

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