Your online presence can convince or deter a potential employer from hiring you. Unfortunately, even after material is removed from the internet, a digital footprint remains. A professor in a technology class I enrolled in asked us to google him as an exercise. A myriad of hits came back showcasing an assortment posts displaying research and other academic work he had accomplished in his profession, yet the seventh listing on the first page featured pictures from various stages of his adult life. He displayed one of the photos from a decade ago which was taken when he played in a band while in college. The website and photo had been taken down years earlier, yet, he said, every time he asked students to google him online, someone inevitably came back with this photo of him. The exercise demonstrated his point that a digital footprint lasts forever in a search engine – even after the original website is taken down.
While googling yourself and removing potentially harmful pictures and posts off one’s Facebook page and other websites is a good place to start to repair the damage, being proactive to prevent a detrimental online presence requires being aware of not only what you are posting online, but what your friends are doing with photos they take of you. A teacher I worked with was horrified one day when a parent of one of the preschoolers she taught in her in class sent her an email with a photo of her out partying with her friends posing and smiling for the camera with a beer in her hand. It turns out that the parent had been looking at a band’s webpage and came across this photo while looking through the photos posted on the band’s website.
Your Google Results Are Part of Your Personal Brand
While it is true that keeping unprofessional material about yourself off the internet is important for every person to consider – the antithesis is true. If employers see nothing online about one’s professional network and accomplishments, then they may choose other applicants whose online presence provides them with a clearer picture their professional accomplishments. For more information about promoting oneself via social media, Kenzie Kramer wrote, “Let’s Get Digital, Five Minutes for Social Media Promotion”. The article features tips about using some of the latest social media networks like Pinterest and Tumblr. Kelly Fincham just wrote an interesting piece for the Poynter Institute titled “What every young journalist should know about using Twitter.”
Has anyone had an experience or know of someone where their online presence has hurt or helped them with getting or keeping a job?