April 14, 2011

Google Me - Is your online identity turning away potential employers?

The good news is, that if a potential employer or a member of HR is searching your name on the internet, there must have been enough in your resume to peak their interest. The bad news is, if your wild, less professional side is posted anywhere on the internet, they're likely to find it and it could prevent you from getting that interview or job offer letter. So before you send out that resume letter, consider your online identity and the accounts associated with your name.

Do you have a professional email address? For personal emails to friends, you can use SexyBabe23@yahoo.com or kittenmittensFTW@hotmail.com if that's what you like to identify yourself with. For more professional exchanges, however, it's a good idea to have a clean email address with just your first initial and last name or something similar to that. A professional email address is particularly important to have because you probably have your email listed on your resume, right? (Psst, if you don't, you should!). Keep it simple, keep it clean.

Do you have a LinkedIn account? Since LinkedIn is more focused on building professional relationships and career networks, I imagine you've already done a good job of making your account boss-approved. It couldn't hurt to double check, though, considering how likely it is that HR will look for you here.

But you know what employers love to search more than LinkedIn? Facebook. If there's a wild side of you that you don't want your career buddies to know about it, Facebook is most likely to have the juicy details and considering how frequently they like to change the rules, you shouldn't really put a lot of trust in their privacy settings. (Remember when you could set it so your profile picture was only viewable by your friends?). It's a good idea to comb through your Facebook and make sure 1. That your privacy settings are set so that not everyone can see your photos and activities (just in case your friends post something embarrassing on your profile) and 2. That you eliminate as much of the embarrassing content as possible (just in case those privacy settings don't hold).

If you want a twitter or a tumblr account where your username is BlueEyedBabe86 and you post things that are inappropriate for the work place, then that's up to you. But it would be a good idea not to associate that account with your real name or photo or professional email address so that it's not associated with you.

Just for fun (or to creep yourself out), do a Google search of your name and see what comes up. (The creepy part is how MUCH sometimes shows up). So take a look at what information the employers can dig up on you, and make sure there's nothing there that can hold you back in landing that job.

Katie Hazard | Digital Artist, User Experience Designer
khazard@internlikearockstar.com | @katie_hazard
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