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How to survive an internet search by potential employers

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A recent survey by job search site CareerBuilder discovered that 37 percent of hiring managers use Google to research job applicants. This highlights the need for prospective employees to consider the whole internet as the cover page to their resume. With over 65 percent of that group using Facebook as their primary resource, social media could be ground zero for your public face.

Many of us live under the illusion that social media is a private space, a safe place of no judgement. Sure the drunken pictures from you 21st birthday party shouldn’t have any impact on your daily life, but they can. Expecting anything posted on the internet to be private or remain private is naive. It’s like posting a notice on the bulletin board of you local cafe and then demanding that only certain people look at it. Even if you can control who reads your notice, you have no way to police how those people will decide to share your information.

No matter how uncomfortable we may be with the idea, hiring managers, who can be swamped with hundreds of applications at a time, are always looking for easy ways to sort through candidates. The internet is just another tool to help them do that. So, in today’s digital world, social media and job searching go hand in hand.

In the CareerBuilder survey, 65 percent reported that they used internet searches to determine if the candidate has a professional presentation. About 50 percent use it to see if the person would be a good fit with the company’s culture, and to learn more about the candidates’ qualifications.

Perhaps the most important number was the 34 percent who said that they had come across something that caused them not to hire a candidate. The most common reasons were; persons posting a provocative photo, making reference to drinking or drug use, speaking badly about a former employer or coworkers, lying about their qualifications, or using bad grammar.

It is important that when a potential employer searches for you online they find the version of yourself that you want them to see. Here are some tips to help you accomplish that:

Do the work for them: Include a link to your Linkedin page (which you should have anyway) on your resume.

Get a second opinion: Ask a trusted friend or family member to search you and see if they find anything they think you should be aware of.

Use common sense: If you are about to post something that you wouldn’t want a cop or your boss to see, then you shouldn’t be sharing it with the internet

You may love the internet and social media, but they don’t love you. They are brutally impartial tools that simply spit back whatever you feed them. You won’t be able to defend your words or actions to someone who searches for your name on the internet and finds something provocative, so always remember to put your best foot forward in all things.

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