Monday, March 23, 2009

Do You Pass the Google Test? How Your Online Profile Impacts Your Job Search

Gone are the days when your transgressions simply disappeared with your hangover, now last nights mistake gets posted & tagged on your Facebook profile for all to see. What gets posted may seem funny at the time but it secretly could be destroying your job search. The need to maintain a positive online profile has never been more important. Your online profile is essentially your personal brand & this brand weights heavily on employers decisions.

Here are the facts, 1 out of 5 corporate recruiters will use social networks & blogs to screen job applicants (roughly 22% currently screen through social networks, up 11% from 07' & projected to grow by at least another 9% in 09'). Of those companies that use social networks to screen, 1/3 said they opted not to hire someone based on the information found in their online profile.

Here's the top reasons why their online profile screened them out:

1) 41% were eliminated from the job search due to photos of them binge drinking or doing illegal drugs or in Michael Phelps case both.

2) 40% were eliminated for provocative or nude photos.

3) The best of the rest: Poor communication, lying about qualifications, excessive profanity, discriminatory or derogatory remarks & unprofessional screen names (when I was a recruiter I once received a resume from a girl who's screen name was AhotVolleyballChick4Sure. She DidNotGetCalledBack4Sure.

Now that you've seen what a poor online profile can do for you it's important to understand that a positive representation is as equally persuasive in getting you a job. Roughly 1/4 of companies found information in a candidates online profile that solidified their job offer. So to help you get started here's a list of online profile do's & don'ts.

Remember your online profile is your personal brand. Do you want your personal brand to communicate irresponsibility, poor judgement or illicit acts? Probably not!

Here's a list of profile do's & don'ts to help you get started in developing your online brand.


  • Post pictures of you binge drinking or doing drugs, we already now these types of pics nixed 41% of candidates from consideration so don't set yourself up to do the same.
  • Post pictures of you in provocative clothing or no clothing at all. Seriously this won't help you get a job & could get you kicked off American Idol.
  • Post anything: derogatory, slander anyone, use profanity gratuitously, bad talk an employer, lie or use a unprofessional screen name.
  • Consider your online profile to be your personal brand. Scrutinize the material you post & remember it's a direct reflection of you.
  • Set your profile to private
  • Screen what your friends write on your wall or post to your profile (same goes for you don't write anything on your friends wall that you wouldn't want on your own), guilt by association will get you every time.
  • If you have friends who have posted risky pictures of you, ask them to un-tag you or remove them all together.
  • Focus on conversations or post material related to your job search, areas of interest, join groups focused on these areas and actively manage your profile to promote a professional brand.
  • If you are a current student athlete you probably don't have a strong Google presence outside of your sports bio & box scores. So you can leverage your online profile through Linkedin, The Corporate Playbook & Facebook to promote your professional accomplishments.

This brings up an important question, do you pass the Google test (Google yourself, what comes up, is it an accurate representation of you)? Your online brand is yours to create & maintain, if you have any skeleton's in the closet (or skeleton's in the profile I should say), now is the time to tidy up that online image & use it to your advantage.