April 5, 2009

Go ahead, Google yourself!

Here's a snippet of a conversation I recently heard:

"Did you hear what happened to Rachel yesterday?"

"No, what?"

"Remember the job she applied for last week at that new store in the mall? Well she had an interview with the manager and everything went great. The manager even did reference checks.

"Yeah, so what happened?"

"Well she didn't get the job."

"Why?"

"Remember those photos on Facebook she took at the party when she did the beer pong? Well the manager searched her name in Google and that's what came up first!"

"Uh oh!"

While this scenario may not apply to you, there's a good chance that someone you know has lost out on a job due to something posted online. It could be a photo, a video, or even a few words. Take for example this guy who was fired over a post he made on Facebook about his employer.

Even though the guy was fired for criticizing his company online (and calling them "retarded), if you look beyond the surface, you'll see a new reality - the Internet can kill your job prospects! And of course, social networking websites like Facebook and Myspace often play the biggest part in the applications fielded by students and youth.

Consider this - let's say you are doing an essay on World War I. It's very simple to do a quick web search and have pages and pages of information at your fingertips.

The same applies for job applicants. It's very easy to open up a web browser and type in the name of a prospective employee. In fact, most hiring managers do it - even if company policy doesn't mention it. For example, the manager of the last retail store I worked at had a habit of googling the name of every applicant - she did it with me and it turns out there's a musician with my same name!

But getting back to the point, you'd be surprised what they find. Pictures of applicants partying on the weekend, or videos of them making inappropriate hand/body gestures, or unflattering blog postings made a few months ago.

Therefore, I always tell students and youth looking for a job that you have to manage your personal brand online too. It's not just about having a great resume and cover letter, but you also have to have a great online presence.

So what does that mean?

Essentially, it's time you took a good look at what your online presence is. Think like a recruiter or hiring manager. Google your name and see what comes up. As you're taking a look at the content that bears your name, if you consider something that you've posted online questionable, then it's time to take it down.

After all, we all like to have a good time with friends on weekends or vent our frustrations - but you don't want that to be the reason why you were moved to the "REJECTED" applicants pile!

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