Imagine for a minute that you're an employer. If you were hiring and had narrowed your search down to two potential candidates, who would you choose: candidate A, who is well-qualified, or candidate B, who is well-qualified and who also had a party shut down by the cops last weekend? Most likely, candidate A, right? Once an employer is aware of unflattering information about a potential hire -- right or wrong -- it can affect how he or she views that person. And in this era of social media, what a person does during his or her personal time can very quickly become known by anyone if it's shared on the Internet. One study suggests that one in 10 employers will reject a job candidate based on information they found about the potential hire online [source: Langfitt].
Here are a few ways to keep damaging information about yourself from damaging your employment prospects:
- Google yourself. Do a simple search that a possible employer might do, and see what pops up. Anything damaging or embarrassing?
- If you're on a social networking site like Facebook, be sure to set your security settings to "private" so that your profile isn't available for viewing by anyone you're not connected to.
- If you're on Twitter or you run a personal blog, consider using an alias so that those who do business with you (now or in the future) will be shielded from any potentially controversial statements you may make.
- Consider hiring the services of a company that helps monitor and clean up a person's online reputation. They say they can create an overview of your online persona and assist you in contacting sources that can remove or alter your information.
A good reputation goes a long way with prospective employers, as does the attribute in the next section.