Do you use Facebook or Myspace for having fun communicating with your friends? As many of you know, these sites have become very popular for connecting with friends including posting pictures (not all discreet) and sharing personal life events (some very personal!). What you may not know, is that employers are utilizing these sites as well to check you out! AND they are making hiring decisions based on this information. In addition to the usual reference checks, employers can visit these sites and learn all sorts of interesting things about you from a highly reliable source – YOU. Of course, you may protest that this is an invasion of privacy or that info posted there is personal and not work related. However, the cruel reality is this: whatever you post on the Internet is obviously no longer “private”. Information that you post will be accepted as reliable, even if you made it up to impress your friends. Employers will form judgments about your personality, your ethics, your trustworthiness, etc. to determine whether you are the kind of person they want working for them. By the way, employers are also Googling your name to see what type of cool info – or what kind of “digital dirt”*- pops up about you.*
So, what can you do about this? Well, for starters, if you are in job search mode, be cautious as to what you post on these sites. You may want to consider removing some of those pictures from last week’s keg party. Next, there are privacy controls on these sites – so learn what they are and how to use them. Another idea is to check out industry blogs (use technorati.com to search for blogs by topic) and comment intelligently on them – this raises your Google presence and can help promote a more professional image. You can also participate in LinkedIn to enhance your image, a business networking site considered reputable and professional. Guess it’s like anything these days – you may be frustrated by the information I’m sharing with you, but being informed allows you to make choices and have some control in the process. Happy postings!
*(A great resource for professionals and executives on building your online identity – “Career Distinction,” by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson.)