"If someone googled you right now what would they find? A less than flattering image, or perhaps an obscene status? Now what happens if it's a potential employer? Yes, employers have Facebook too."
If someone googled you right now what would they find? A less than flattering image, or perhaps an obscene status? Now what happens if it's a potential employer? Yes, employers have Facebook too.
Quite simply, your internet image matters. If potential employers google you and they don't like what they find, then don't expect them to take your application any further. But don't just take my word for it; according to a recent Microsoft survey 70% of applicants are rejected due to information found online, and the same study revealed that 85% of employers say that an online reputation influences decisions. Holly Paul (US Recruiting Leader, Pricewaterhouse Coopers) certainly backs this up when she states that "It's no longer enough to simply have a solid resume. Students now need a professional online presence."
However, creating a professional online presence doesn't take much. You could start by searching yourself and finding out what's out there. If it's not positive, then get rid of it. You should especially focus on commonly used sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and so on. Make sure you check the privacy settings and if you don't use any of these accounts anymore, then delete them. Lots of students have several existing online accounts that they've forgotten about, so make sure you're thorough.
Having said that, you can also use this to your advantage; if you know employers are going to figuratively 'check you out' online, then make it easy for them to find something they like. This could be a glowing LinkedIn profile, an interesting video, or a picture of you receiving an award, it doesn't matter. Just make sure it's positive. For anyone that doesn't know what LinkedIn is, it is the world's largest professional network with over 120 million members. If you haven't done so already, I suggest you create an account. Wouldn't it be great if the first thing employers find when type in your name is an online CV full of recommendations?
Something else to consider is that just as employers are researching you, you should make sure to find out all about them. By this I mean your specific interviewer. It's common to know the name of your interviewer before you meet him or her, and once you do, you should research him/her extensively. When you have a lot of background information about someone, then your questions or responses stand a good chance of being better. For example, interviewers get asked routine questions all the time; why do you like this company? Or what do you like about this industry? But wouldn't you like to be the guy that asks something like "What made you decide to move from the communications industry in company X, to company Y?" When it sounds like you genuinely care about what you're asking, interviewers are more likely to remember what you said.
So, make the internet work for you, not against you.
Charles, GRB Journalist