I’ve written before about online reputation and how people say stupid things on Twitter and Facebook. Umm… Is “stupid” too strong a word? Hmm… Maybe it would be better to say that people say and do ill-advisable things online? Yes, that is what I meant to say. Sure it is! I want to be sure that you understood what I truly meant because I would not want to offend anyone due to a misunderstanding.
Okay, what I just said was all sarcasm, but I wanted to make a point. What if some time in the future I am trying to get a gig as a Therapist. Someone could research my background and see my comment above and say, “I can’t hire Jim to be a therapist! Based on his “stupid” comment, I think he is insensitive and impatient and like that Therapist on the Geico commercial.”
If you think what I said was farfetched, then you are blissfully unaware of how companies approve candidates in 2010. Microsoft commissioned research on privacy and among their findings was something quite eye-opening; at least, surprising for some.
Here are some of the highlights:
- The recruiters and HR professionals surveyed are not only checking online sources to learn about potential candidates, but they also report that their companies have made online screening a formal requirement of the hiring process.
- Of U.S. recruiters and HR professionals surveyed, 70% say they have rejected candidates based on information they found online. Though not as frequently, respondents from the U.K. and Germany report the same trend.
- Recruiters and HR professionals surveyed report being very or somewhat concerned about the authenticity of the content they find.
- In all countries, recruiters and HR professionals say they believe the use of online reputational information will significantly increase over the next five years.
- Positive online reputations matter. Among U.S. recruiters and HR professionals surveyed, 85% say that positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions at least to some extent. Nearly half say that a strong online reputation influences their decisions to a great extent.
Now that you know this, what next? How do you protect your online reputation? May I offer a few suggestions?
- Use Google Alerts to monitor what people say about you on Google. Be sure to use not only your name, but derivatives of your name as well. For example, do people know you by William Anthony Rogers or “Buck” Rogers? If both, set alerts around both names.
- Use a service like TweetBeep or SocialOomph to get email alerts when people mention you on Twitter.
- Create and maintain a dual identity. When you discuss work-related items or industry news, use your real name. However, when you are dancing naked in the Cayman Islands, use a pseudonym like – 1SexyChick. Why? Recruiters researching your name after an interview will be looking for your real name and not your nickname and in this way, you should be safe. Make sense?