bryan coe digital marketing strategist

Does your online presence help your career?

Many of us have heard stories about someone that lost their job, didn’t get a job or even didn’t get their teaching certificate because of something that was posted online. Whether you use MySpace, Facebook, a blog or you just have a website about yourself. It’s a big joke to Google yourself. It may sound arrogant or self fulfilling, but you might want to check it out.

Careerbuilder.com recently posted and article on their sight One-in-Five Employers Use Social Networking Sites to Research Job Candidates, CareerBuilder.com Survey Finds. Surprised? Don’t be! It is becoming more and more prevalent that employers will check out potential candidates online. It’s happened to me too. Before I decided to go out on my own I was running my business on the side as a part-time consulting gig. I had an interview with another company and in the middle of the interview the interviewer asked me, out of the blue, “So, what’s Blackbird e-Solutions?” I was prepared for something like this to happen because I track and control what is online about me.

According to CareerBuilder.com 34% of the hiring managers they surveyed said that they found content online that caused them to dismiss the candidate. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • 41% – candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs
  • 40% – candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information
  • 29% – candidate had poor communication skills
  • 28% – candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee
  • 27% – candidate lied about qualifications
  • 22% – candidate used discriminatory remarks related to race, gender, religion, etc.
  • 22% – candidate’s screen name was unprofessional
  • 21% – candidate was linked to criminal behavior
  • 19% – candidate shared confidential information from previous employers

But there is still hope. 24% said that they found something that helped them make their decision and they chose the candidate:

  • 48% – candidate’s background supported their qualifications for the job
  • 43% – candidate had great communication skills
  • 40% – candidate was a good fit for the company’s culture
  • 36% – candidate’s site conveyed a professional image
  • 31% – candidate had great references posted about them by others
  • 30% – candidate showed a wide range of interests
  • 29% – candidate received awards and accolades
  • 24% – candidate’s profile was creative

Careerbuilder.com also gives some tips for how to keep your presence professional and clean:

1) Clean up digital dirt. Make sure to remove pictures, content and links that can send the wrong message to a potential employer before you start your job search.

2) Update your profile regularly. Make sure to include specific accomplishments, inside and outside of work.

3) Monitor comments. Since you can’t control what other people say on your site, you may want to use the “block comments” feature.

4) Join groups selectively. While joining a group with a fun or silly name may seem harmless, “Party Monsters R Us” may not give the best impression to a hiring manager. Also be selective about who you accept as “friends.”

5) Go private. Consider setting your profile to “private,” so only designated friends can view it.

So, the lesson is go out and have fun with social networking, but make sure you monitor what is actually out there. You never know who is looking…