How many times have you heard the statement to be careful what you post online? Well, it turns out that companies are exploiting information they can access in the public domain about job candidates, including those posts you wish you had never made. Whether full-time, part-time, contract or temporary worker, a company may wish to know just as much about an entrepreneur contracting with them for a month, as they do about a full-time employee. While there’s a bevy of software available to scan resumes for keywords, more-and-more, organizations are seeking to create a full-fledged profile on their candidates. Is it creepy and Big Brother-esque? Yes, but an unfortunate reality the Internet has facilitated.
What information are they targeting? Old and new resumes, blogs, and social media profiles, including those posts you so often believe are private (they aren’t), certifications, licensing, professional development, academic histories and degrees, military service, awards, presentations, and papers, just to name a few.
While this offers a broader perspective on a potential new hire, the profile they develop on you can be polar opposite of what you are attempting to convey on your resume and in the interview. Hence, why what you post matters, and why those old YouTube videos of you, particularly the live videos that tend to be less than flattering, need to go. From throwing your computer out the window during a temper tantrum, doing live makeup applications with friends in high school and college, and nearly crippling yourself doing wild skateboard jumps, to smoking pot on camera, all can eliminate you from consideration for a job. Any job! Not to mention get you featured on the show Ridiculousness. Certainly, you may have been intending to garner this attention at the time – but let it go for the sake of your career!
Ask yourself: should the company believe your resume and interview, or the comprehensive profile they developed containing contradictory information? Make them ask that question and we can guess what will happen. Ultimately, I see this technology impacting any aspect of a career, from job search to promotion, entrepreneurs, and for college admissions.
So, what can we do to stop past poor decisions from haunting us? My advice to clients is to go through their social media and to Google themselves to see what else comes up that they have forgotten about over time. First up – scrape all social media, videos, and blogs and get rid of nasty comments (particularly you fighting with others online, and political and religious insults and articles). Be sure to go back to the beginning and clean up your posts. This isn’t about stating you love a particular political candidate or God, but the negative comments and articles that cause issue. Why should a company hire someone they believe will come and start political arguments or push religion or non-religion on others? Trust me, they won’t!
Next, get rid of excessive cussing in posts, videos, and blogs, look through your pictures and delete most of those with you drinking alcohol (a little bit is okay, but some people are way too “thirsty” in all their pictures) and definitely all of them where you are doing drugs – I shouldn’t have to say why. The fights you get into on social media with others need to go to, and so do all those personal posts on health issues and family problems. Then find the “friends and family” that continually do the same and unfriend them. But Karen, you say, I can’t unfriend my Mom, best friend, or anyone to whom I am connected. Actually, you can, and my clients regularly do so with just a small explanation about how it can hurt their job search. If these people truly care about you, they will understand. Find the old profiles that you haven’t deleted, old resumes posted on Monster, CareerBuilder, etc., and delete, delete, delete.
Blessedly, once something is deleted, it will be increasingly harder to find. My clients have seen a job search or career revitalized after ridding their social media of questionable content, negative political and religious opinions, and old profiles they forgot existed. The impact of having a positive overall profile cannot be underestimated with so many companies doing a “deep dive” on candidates.
I realize the temptation that exists to share this information, but do so privately with friends and family in conversation to avoid having it online where it can come back and hurt you. Lastly, always take 24-hours before responding to an email (those can also get shared out on the Internet), post, video, etc., to ensure you have a calmer viewpoint with more context, which often will make you hit the delete button. Purge the negative from your overall “public” profile, and watch your career grow and your job search reinvigorated!
Karen Silins is a multi-certified, award winning resume writer, career, business and personal branding coach working with individuals and small businesses. After graduating with degrees in education and vocal performance, she made her own career transition into the Human Resources realm. Karen left Human Resources to become an entrepreneur and help jobseekers, executives and fellow entrepreneurs achieve their goals. She keeps current regarding trends in the resume writing, coaching, HR, small business and marketing industries by working daily with individual clients on resume development and career coaching, executive/career management coaching, consulting for small businesses in business plan development, marketing, blogging, hiring and overall HR processes, and providing 20-50+ seminars and workshops annually to a variety of organizations in the greater Kansas City area. She can be reached via her website at www.careerandresume.com.