Monday, October 1, 2007

Student Beware: is it time for you to do an internet audit before job searching?

While surfing Ars Technica, I found an article posted earlier this year called "Job Candidates Gone Wild: be careful what you post online," which I find extremely relevant as I draw closer to graduation. This is something all students should consider as they prepare to seek professional jobs and opportunities: if a hiring manager Googles you only to find your ridiculous Myspace page or your serial drinking binges and intoxicated escapades on Facebook, this is probably not going to help you (unless that's what your job calls for and in that case, good job!)

Be careful what you post online if you want to be able to get a job in the future. Your blog, web site, Facebook, MySpace, online dating profile, or even forum postings might "out" your salacious activities to a potential employer. According to a survey conducted by business social networking site Viadeo, one-fifth of hiring managers have used the Internet to find personal information about potential job candidates, and a quarter of those have rejected candidates based on what they found. - Jacqui Cheng, "Job Candidates Gone Wild"
So is this fair? This is an argument about public domain: if your crazy photos and epic rants are put out for all to see and read on a publicly accessible site, you should assume that this content is fair game when being considered for a job.

A good place to start would be to see what information you put out there on any social networking sites: if your Facebook page talks about your favorite books and movies that's probably not an issue (unless your employer HATES that movie :P ), but pictures and notes posted that detail your Friday night drunken debauchery may not be what they're looking for.

Another tip would also be to Google your name. Sure many people probably share your name (gosh, look at me - how many Megan Garzas are there!?), but see what comes up that may pertain to you. Example: Google "Megan Garza" and the first hit will be a link to my LinkedIn page that features resume-type facts and shows my list of connections of professionals that I know. This is definitely a preferable result when I think of a manager looking me up on the web.

I think that conducting an "internet audit" to see what pages feature you is an important step for those active on the internet. I took this to heart when I completely overhauled my former MySpace page. For years I had the typical layout but I realized over the summer that if someone searched for me on MySpace they would pull up my crappy page. I then found a clean, professional div-overlay to construct a simple yet very attractive page with minimal information - my page did not show my friends or the comments they left me. I was very proud of it until I recently found out that my account had been phished for the second time which finally convinced me to delete my account.

The moral of the story is that students should consider what they put on the internet in terms of how it will look to others who are considering you. If a resume and a nice suit for the interview is all a part of impression management, so are the pictures you post and the forums you participate in publicly on the web.

What about you all, my fellow classmates and readers? Any great examples?

10/4 Update: Hoi Polloi posted an entry today about investigations targeting employees who have posted ill-advised pictures on Facebook. A 20-year-old RA at OSU lost his job and had to move dorms because of some pictures that surfaced on Facebook featuring under-age drinking. Thanks for putting these examples together, Angelo.


Shane said...

It is really funny that you posted this blog today, because just earlier I was talking to one of my friends who just recently deleted her facebook page. She is graduating in December and has just begun to start applying for full time jobs. She said although she didn't have anything bad on her page, she thought it would be easier to get rid of it, just incase her employers saw something they didn't like. In response to your blog. I totally agree with you, when you say anything you put up is fair game. I will take this into consideration when applying for jobs near graduation. I probably won't delete any of my accounts, but I will try to make them look more professional like you did. Good post!

kassie! said...

You mean people's drunken photos are not the final clinchers for the job??????!


Great post, as always! It almost seems like common sense that you shouldn't have ridiculous photos of yourself roaming around the internet if you're looking for an internship and/or job. First impressions are everything..I don't care what people say.

Plus, one time I stumbled upon an ex-manager of mine's myspace. She had drunken photos up of herself. One of them entailed her, a man's hands, and boobs. I'll leave the rest to your imagination. Needless to say, I could never look at her the same way again. haha

Megan said...

Ha ha Kassie, good example - it does work both ways! Thanks for commenting!