Today’s job market, like most of the rest of our lives, has been taken over by the internet. Applications have moved online; interviews are conducted over Skype, and over 3.7 million employees spend at least half their time working from home. Most companies use the internet to research potential new hires before the interview.
About 60 percent of employers perform a web search on applicants before the interview. If you are looking for an IT position, the chances of your interviewer Googling you shoot up to 76 percent.
Most people do not consider the amount of personal information available online. They do not bother to clean up their online presence during a job hunt. That big spring break weekend last year? You may not remember most of the trip, but your bestie put all the embarrassing evidence on YouTube. Your cringeworthy teenage online journal? Since you signed that blog with your real name instead of a screen name, a simple internet search will allow potential employers to read every terrible poem and love letter to your teenage crush.
And all this online content could do serious damage to your job prospects. Of hiring managers who use the internet to pre-screen candidates, 49 percent said they have decided not to hire people based on information they found online.
Employers reported that the following items were most likely to eliminate a candidate:
- Comments that spoke of a former employer or co-workers in a negative way
- Posts about drinking or drug use
- Inappropriate pictures or videos
- Any evidence of racism, sexism, or discrimination
- Proof that the candidate lacks communication or writing skills
Employers can use information found online as questions during your interview.
Often the interviewer will try to throw you off track with these questions, or try to get you to say something bad about a former position, company, or boss.
So before you send out the next round of applications, It is important that you run a Google search on your name. Start with a basic search using your full name in quotation marks. Expand your search to include social media usernames, nicknames, and incorrect spellings. Search using the name of your city, your school, or a company you worked for. Keep searching and be sure to look at several results pages to make sure you find everything.
Do a Google image search; it is easier to sift through pictures associated with your name than websites. If there is an image you are worried about, run a reverse image search to see if it is on any webpages.
Finally, Google any phone numbers, emails, and addresses you use or have used in the past. You may be surprised by the amount of information about you that can be found with this basic information.
Remove Unwanted Content
If you find information you do not want available to the public, remove everything to which you have access. Make your social media accounts private, delete any public posts or pictures, and untag yourself from friends’ photos and videos.
If you do not have access to the items or permission to remove them, contact the person who has posted them and ask for them to be deleted.
Create Positive Content
If there are things on the internet you can not delete, the best strategy is to create posts you would like to have associated with your name. Positive, fresh content will push unwanted posts further down in the Google search results, making it less likely that your future boss will see them.
- If you do not already have a LinkedIn profile, create one. Use a custom URL that includes your full name.
- Join Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks that businesses use.
- Interact with important accounts online, posting thoughtful comments and other posts that will paint your profile in a positive way.
- Start a professional or portfolio blog and include links to all of your current social media profiles and websites.
If you are a decent writer, try to score some guest posts for other blogs or post fun, work-appropriate videos on YouTube. Any active content associated with your name will not only make posts you would like to hide harder to find; it will make sure that when a recruiter or interviewer Googles you, they will find posts that will help them to view you in a positive light.
Use Positive Posts to Your Advantage
There are some things found online that can work for you in an interview. Employers stated that the following information found online had led them to hire a candidate:
- Their personality seemed like a good fit for the company
- Their background information matched their resume
- Great communication skills were evident in online posts
- They looked professional
- They appeared to have well-rounded interests
If you know your interviewer is going to Google you, then you can come into the interview ready to answer questions based on your internet presence. Take the time to clean up your online presence, fill the web with active content, and don’t post any new offensive items. By Googling yourself regularly and keeping your profiles clean and filled with positive, interesting content, you are more likely to get an interview, get the job, and get your career moving down the right path.