When you're job searching, what you probably consider personal information can easily be found online by potential employers. In fact, almost 50% of the respondents to About.com's Human Resources Guide, Susan Heathfield's Employer Survey say they check candidates at Google or another search engine. Given that many employers actually do research job applicants, it's important to ensure that all your communications are professional.
What Employers Can Find
The many communications that can tell employers a lot about you include email, instant message, blogs, and the content and photos you post on social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. It's quite easy for employers to find information you may have preferred to keep private.
Take the time to periodically check all the information you have (or someone else has about you) online, so you can make sure you don't get any unpleasant surprises during the hiring process.
Here's a quick list of what you should check:
Job Search Internet Checklist
- Instant Message Accounts
- Google and other search engines
- Facebook and other social networking sites
- Forum / Bulletin Board Posts
Email / Instant Message
Your email address and instant messenger screen name(s) should be professional. Your email messages should include a signature that includes your phone number, so, it's easy for employers to contact you. One way to avoid mixing business with pleasure is to have a dedicated email address and screen name that you use just for job searching.
Have you Googled yourself to see what information people can find about you on the Internet? Make sure that what you find is appropriate for a potential employer to read. You might be surprised at what's there!
If you have a blog, is there anything that you wouldn't want an employer or a colleague to read? Whether you write about your interviews, your current job, or your personal life, don't forget to review all your online information when job searching, because any potential employer could find it. If you have friends who write about you, check to make sure what they are writing is appropriate.
Do you have an account on a social networking site, like Twitter or Facebook? Believe it or not, employers do check these sites. Take a look at your profile, your pictures, and who is linked from your site and vice versa. Is there anything you wouldn't want a potential employer to see? If you're concerned, make your profile private and be careful what you put on the front page. Anyone may be able to see the information on that page, even if your profile is private.
Online Job Search Privacy
It's important to protect your privacy when job searching online. Here's information on how to keep your personal information confidential and how to protect your privacy.
Even though you should be able to have a personal life online, employers want to find out as much about as candidates for employment as they can. There are ethical issues regarding how deeply employers should look for information, but, there's nothing stopping them from getting as much information as much as they can on you. So, be careful what you share - you're not just sharing it with your friends, you're sharing it with the world.