Recently I delivered a workshop on how to craft a standout resume. During the tips and hints section I stressed the need to have a professional e-mail address. It might have been hilarious when you created it but firstname.lastname@example.org is not going to get you a lot of love from a prospective employer. Some of the attendees were doubtful that something as minor as an inappropriate e-mail address could have such impact. I assured them that many employers would immediately disregard any applications from such e-mail addresses. I myself had done so on numerous occasions when shortlisting, particularly when there are over 100 applications to get through.
“You also need to be careful about your digital footprint” I cautioned. “Employers can and will google you to see what comes up, and if they don’t like what they see there goes your chance of being shortlisted”.
“That doesn’t really happen does it?” asked one attendee, particularly concerned about the impact her daughter’s on-line activities may have on her future employment opportunities.
“It certainly does” I replied. “If you’re at all concerned, just put your daughter’s name into any internet search engine and see what comes up. That is what an employer will see”.
As the group broke up about an hour later I overheard a few murmurs about “googling myself” with at least one attendee headed straight to the local library to try it out.
Later that night as I was relaxing in front of the television I thought back to that workshop and decided I should probably take my own advice. So, with a few nervous butterflies in my stomach about what I might find, I did it. I googled myself.
Here’s What I Found
My first thought when looking over the search results was “ooh, someone’s made a Wikipedia entry about me!” Alas no, it turns out that there is a very famous female cricketer with the same name.
The second result was a link to all of the Facebook profiles of people with my name. This will be a common result for anyone with a Facebook page and probably the first place an employer will look.
Completely confident that I had turned all available privacy settings on so only my Facebook “friends” could see my posts, photos and information I left it at that.
I kept scrolling, reviewing each result on the first page without success. Not one was actually about me. From an employer perspective this is good – if there isn’t a result on the first page they usually won’t look any further. However I was feeling a little miffed, there may not have been any negative results but there were no positive results either. So I searched again, this time adding my location after my name. That’s when I hit the jackpot – my LinkedIn profile came up first! This is exactly the result you want, after all LinkedIn isn’t referred to as “Facebook for work” for nothing. A prospective employer can see your experience, your qualifications and your interests all in the one place – a great way for them to determine if you would fit in to their organisation.
What About Pictures?
Luckily the first picture I saw when I adjusted my search to just images was my LinkedIn profile picture – the first result any serious professional wants to come up. And thankfully that was the only image of me that came up. No New Year’s Eve celebrations for prospective employers to pour over!
Back to Facebook
It wasn’t until the next morning that I decided it was worth having a closer look at my Facebook profile. Obviously as I was searching my own profile I would be able to see everything, which meant I couldn’t check what a prospective employer might see. So I asked a colleague who was not one of my Facebook friends to google my profile and see what came up, just to be certain. Imagine my surprise when they were able to see all of my photos and friends, although thankfully they were unable to see any of my posts. It turns out that Facebook update their privacy settings incredibly frequently, so even if you think you have made your account completely private that could change without you even knowing it. My suggestion would be to check your privacy settings every couple of months to make sure they are still as you want them.
As unfair as it might seem, in the digital age anything you put on-line is considered fair game to prospective employers. If they can find it, they will take it in to account when assessing your suitability for their organisations. So be smart, and keep things professional – or, if you simply must post those photos of you passed out in the middle of the local footy oval after celebrating a win, make sure your privacy settings are on as high as possible!
Written by our resume queen, Christina. If you need help with your online presence, book in to our upcoming workshop series.