It’s unfortunate that most people in transition don’t understand the importance of their cyberspace profiles, and they therefore underestimate them. The following “From Tweet to Hired” quote puts the issue into perspective: “According to a recent CareerBuilder study, 43% of employers and 83% of executive recruiters admit to searching candidates online before making a hiring decision. Employers often turn down candidates based on negative content, and they solidify their decisions to hire based on positive content.” The October 2010 issue of Inc. magazine says, “Job seekers are especially at risk: Almost 80 percent of recruiters surveyed in a recent Microsoft study checked out applicants online, and 70 percent of them eliminated candidates based on what they found.”
Several companies–such as ReputationDefender, Naymz, and Brand-Yourself–specialize in helping people protect their reputations. For a fee, such a company provides a customer with a report showing every Web reference found for that customer. Knowing that potential employers and recruiters can find all sorts of information about you in virtual space can be helpful, although in some situations, it’s almost impossible to change or correct what’s out there, and in others there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. In my own case, for example, someone has exactly the same name as mine except that he’s a professional photographer specializing in nearly nude photography.
While LinkedIn is a more business-oriented social media site, Facebook is more inclined to attract younger people, who at their age do not understand how poor judgment in adolescence can irreparably damage their image for years and years to come. Those youngsters consider it cool and popular to post pictures showing themselves socializing with friends–sometimes inappropriately–and illegally drinking alcohol. Some people feel compelled to expose their unique personalities, but the Internet does not allow separation of professional image and business from one’s particular hobby. Such exposure could be very detrimental down the road. Younger people should be cautioned by parents and teachers about the potential damage. Mature people should know better; otherwise, they have to live with the consequences.
by Alex Freund