Friday, January 28, 2011

Hey...Wake Up!

I have written several times in the past about the importance of protecting your online identity. You have to assume that prospective employers will be searching the Internet and reviewing any results that show up. This pertains to both full-time employment and consulting opportunities and includes Twitter tweets, Facebook postings, personal/professional web site content, and the like.

I have come to realize that even well skilled and experienced professionals can be blind to the importance of protecting their public identity. Please note that I used the words well skilled and experienced and not top-tier or best.

There is no distinction between posts on the Internet that are business-related or ones that are personal or private. They are all reviewed and factored when assessments and judgments are formed and a decision is made to hire or to move on to another candidate. Most importantly, these online references can have a lasting impact for years to come and play a significant factor in your career growth and development.

This article needs to serve as a wake-up call and cause a moment of reflection.

  1. Do your online postings support your personal and professional identities?
  2. Are you considering how these postings may be viewed or interpreted by prospective employers or clients?
Here are some actual examples that we have uncovered over the years. My intention in citing these examples is not to make a judgment about the events that unfolded but instead to illustrate how the online posting could be factored into the hiring decision:

  1. We were recruiting for a position with a progressive e-learning development firm. The company has built an impressive reputation for the caliber of their elearning solutions and the high moral and ethical standards that they set for their business. After presenting a very impressive candidate, we were informed by the client that a Google search revealed that the candidate was involved in a home business that dealt in adult themed products. The client decided not to pursue this candidate.
  2. After interviewing a talented candidate, a review of their Facebook page revealed several inappropriate references to their partying days in college and excessive use of foul language.
  3. A recent Google search of a candidate revealed their personal Twitter page which showed numerous tweets every day throughout the day and raised real questions about the candidate's focus and dedication to their full-time employment. Were they working or tweeting?
  4. One client told me that they had decided not to offer a position to a candidate because their Facebook page indicated frequent illnesses and sick days.
  5. A Google search of another candidate uncovered the candidate’s political blog. The blog, while well written, was decidedly partisan. A prospective hiring manger with opposing political views could react negatively to the blog.
  6. Another candidate's Twitter page showed several references to drinking, beer and alcohol. How could this be interpreted by a prospective employer or client?

There is no way to know for sure how thorough prospective employers will be in their screening of potential employees or consultants. There is, however no question that more and more are using a simple Google search to see what they may be able to learn before they make the decision to interview or hire a candidate.

The strong advice here is to THINK before posting and consider: How might this posting be viewed by others - peers, current and future employers and clients?


Ro said...

Hi, Ross,

A very well-written and useful blog.

Thank you.


SharonLinkPhD. said...

Hi Ross,

This is so true. Adults must be adults and monitor ALL aspects of their online content and participation. However, I am really concerned also by the recklessness by which teens play on the internet. Their not-so-innocent posts today will prevent them from getting jobs tomorrow. The new FaceBook timeline feature enables friends to see an entire history. And in many cases, that history reveals what you alluded to in your blog. Employers look at that history and say "no thank you." Our private lives lived out in a public domain must be carried out with careful consideration.