Be Careful What You Post

On 03/23/2010, in Career, Finding a Job, Professionalism, by Jordan Wilson

… on social networking sites or in the activities you engage online if you want be employable.

At least that is what Microsoft determined in a survey of consumers and Human Resource or recruitment professionals. Microsoft found,

63 percent of consumers surveyed are concerned that online reputation might affect their personal and/or professional life, yet, less than half even consider their reputations when they post online content. Finally, Fewer than 15% of consumers in any of the countries surveyed believe that information found online would have an impact on their getting a job.

70% of surveyed HR professionals in U.S. (41% in the UK) have rejected a candidate based on online reputation information. Reputation can also have a positive effect as in the United States, 86% of HR professionals (and at least two thirds of those in the U.K. and Germany) stated that a positive online reputation influences the candidate’s application to some extent; almost half stated that it does so to a great extent.


Few people believe their online actions impact employment prospects. Yet Human Resource professionals state that online activities can significantly affect whether one gets a job offer.

Quite the difference between perception and reality.

The Good News

If you have a positive online reputation, that can increase your chances of getting the job offer.

As you get involved in extra-curricular activities at school or later in life, I would suggest you keep this in mind. Use the internet to enhance your reputation. For example, if you are involved in charitable work, try to get a mention in the local newspaper. If so, it may be found during an online search of your name.

And The Bad News

It is not just Tiger Woods who is at risk for making poor communication choices.

I was a little surprised by the magnitude of the numbers. That said, I always perform proper due diligence on potential employees and clients, so perhaps this is the norm.

Be very careful what you put out there in the electronic realm.

When applying for a job, expect to be googled.

The Microsoft Data Privacy Day website provides some advice on managing your online reputation. It might be worthwhile to give it a read.

My Suggested Course of Action

From my perspective, I suggest you consider the following steps.

Web search yourself before submitting any employment applications. Find anything that might harm your reputation.

Clean up your on-line persona as much as possible. Or at least so that you comport with the organization to which you are applying. The standards of a Tattoo Parlour likely differ from PriceWaterhouseCoopers. On second thought, maybe they do not.

For what you cannot eliminate, be prepared to explain the item. It is hard to rebut information that is sprung on you. But if you have time to think, you may be able come up with a reasonable explanation and minimize any damage.

Know what may be asked and prepare yourself in advance.

I would give the same advice for any negatives on your resume.

Maybe you have been fired, failed out of school, been convicted of a crime, etc. These issues will come up during an interview. You cannot change what happened. But prepare yourself ahead of time to have effective answers ready for the questions that will be raised.

As the old saying goes, “those that fail to plan, plan to fail.”

If you want to be hired, plan not to fail.

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