Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are brilliant for sharing some of the good times in your life, however they also present risks when you are applying for a job as they can compromise your online reputation.
Picture this scenario. You are out with your mates, drinks are flowing and then the drunken 2am pranks begin.
Somehow you’ve ended up doing something embarrassing, which seemed a great laugh at the time. Either you, or your friends take a video, or photo of it and publish it on Facebook or YouTube.
So what? You’re all students and you want to share your escapades. It’s a good laugh.
There is a problem, however. That picture of you half way up a lamppost wearing nothing but a drunken smile stays on the social networking site, even when you’ve forgotten all about it.
Let’s roll forward a few years. You’ve now graduated and are applying for that all important first job. You’ve prepared a great CV (resume) and have written a fantastic application for that hard to come by position.
As part of the selection process your employer does a search for you on Google, to learn more about you, to gain a greater understanding of your interests and personality – to find the real you.
Lo and behold, being on a social network site that ranks well, your embarrassing images taken back in your student days, are displayed near the top of the search results.
That could be the end of your job application!
Employers Want Rounded People
Whilst we have painted a picture in which an employer could disapprove of what they find out about you when researching your online reputation, don’t forget that most employers are looking for dynamic people who will very likely have done some stupid things when they were younger.
It just comes down to what exactly is published on the web about you. It could even help your job application if you have shown a fun loving and adventurous past.
So What Should You Do?
The important thing to consider is that any potential employer could research your online reputation so you should take the time to ensure that what they might find is something that you feel OK about. You need to do some online reputation management.
Here is a quick checklist:
- Do a search in Google for your name. For example searching for Sam Smith will find documents with Sam in them, Smith in them and Sam Smith
- Repeat the search in Google for your name in quotes. Searching for “Sam Smith” will only find documents containing the text “Sam Smith”
- If you find any pages that you are not proud of, contact the website owner to get them removed
- You could even try and get Google to remove a cached page by searching for your name and then clicking “Give Us Feedback” at the bottom of the page in Google
- Check Facebook – not only your page, but your friends pages too. Take down any compromising images. Ask you friends to do the same
- What about Twitter? Here is useful advice about deindexing Twitter content from Google
- Are there any videos on YouTube that you would rather an employer didn’t see? Here is information about deleting YouTube videos.
Your Online Reputation Is Becoming More Important
As the Internet influences more aspects of our lives and the amount of stored information about us increases daily, it is becoming more important to consider your online reputation.
We have talked about applying for a job here, but what about someone else keen to find about the “real you”, such as a new girl friend or boy friend?
This is not about being paranoid about your privacy. It is about being aware of the information about you that is being gathered, stored and easily found.
You should at least do a search on your name to see what you find. It will almost certainly be OK but if it isn’t then act now to rectify the situation.