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Your online reputation could be keeping you unemployed

Are you sick of not getting the call you have been waiting for? Are you still unemployed after an intense job hunt with hundreds of resumés in circulation? Have you ever thought it could have something to do with your – not so personal – personal life?

Do not put it past employers to hunt you down on the World Wide Web and beyond in order to make sure you would be a positive addition to their company. This may not be an issue with all jobs, but if you want to work in a job where your name represents the company to clients or peer companies, chances are you’ll be under the microscope.

Your life outside your job application speaks volumes to the employer about how you’ll act if you are hired and the most efficient way to make enquiries into someone’s personal life today is the Internet.

Here are some things you may want to try if you’re not getting positive results:

Google yourself

Type your name into a search engine and see what comes up. You could be surprised to see how much people can find out about you. Don’t just skim the first page – click on the results and check image results as well.

It is a small world

You never know who knows who. Keep that in mind when posting pictures and comments. Even the language you use in message board posts, Facebook comments and in emails can deter future employers from calling you back.

It can be tempting to set your Facebook status to, “Getting hammered tonight!” Try to avoid the urge and maybe write a more conspicuous line such as, “Going out tonight!” which does not necessarily imply binge drinking and intense partying.

You don’t have to be “friends” with everyone

If you have a job, avoid adding co-workers and bosses as friends on Facebook or Twitter, or inviting them to check out other personal web pages.  Business and personal life should not mix, especially on the Internet. If you want to keep in touch with colleagues, try a professional network like LinkedIn.

Hide evidence of those crazy nights out

Your future employer will probably not hire you based on your ability to do keg stands or dance on the bar in a mini-skirt.  Whether you delete whole albums from Facebook or simply un-tag yourself in your friends’ photos, make those memorable nights on the town more difficult to find for people who don’t know you.

Change the privacy settings on your networking pages

There are ways around everything on the Internet, of course, but making sure only your friends and family have access to your personal information will not only help your professional life, it can also protect you from online predators and scammers.

The Internet can be a great place to share ideas and get to know new people, but we need to understand the risks attached to putting ourselves in the public eye. Even if you’re not searching for a job at the moment, start thinking about what you’ve already put online and how it reflects on you. This way, when an amazing opportunity presents itself, you don’t have to scramble to interview-proof your web pages.

What have you done to make sure employers like what they see?

Written by

Allyse Verboort is a first year student at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford working toward a BA in English and Contemporary Studies. She is very passionate about writing and hopes to pursue a career in the creative field.


  1. May 7, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Thanks for the mention, I Stumbled this for you:

    It’s important that people keep watch and try to track what’s being said. In this day of cameras everywhere, any random person can snap an awkward shot of you and post it online, potentially making you a laughingstock

  2. Daniel
    May 7, 2009 at 11:17 am

    This is an important topic and I’m glad you covered it Allyse.

    I have, in the past, decided not to interview people based on their Facebook profile. There was no way that I would let these people represent my organization in any way.

    That is not to say that having a facebook profile is bad thing while job searching; in fact it can be a really valuable tool.

    You can control what an employer sees when he googles you; use that to your advantage!

  3. May 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    This is so true!!
    They have Google profiles now o you can ensure your name shows up in a Google search and you can somewhat control what people see and read about you.
    This is also why I am glad Linkedin ranks so high on Google so professional pages show up first

  4. May 9, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I have seen and heard to many times that old photos or comments you made, cost you getting the job you want. Employers use Google too!

    We live in a digital age where nothing is private and we have a million ways to share information. It’s more or less information overload and you need to figure out a way to manage it and make it work for you. Don’t let anything hinder your chances of getting a job. It may seem like a good idea now… but will you regret it later?


  5. Danielle Lorenz
    June 4, 2009 at 1:16 am

    I agree with all of this. But…what are you supposed to do if there are other people online with the same name as you?

    There are nineteen people on Facebook with my name who aren’t me. I’m also apparently a lawyer, track star, soccer player, mom, swimming coach and someone looking to sell their horse. I guess I’m just lucky nothing criminal popped up, although I am nervous to see all of those Facebook profiles…

  6. June 4, 2009 at 8:29 am

    This is why we can’t rely on our Facebook (or other social network) profiles to represent us online. We have to create positive content which clearly identifies us as us, whether it’s a blog, a portfolio, contributing articles to a site like the Incubator, etc.

    Then if the recruiter has your resume right in front of them, they can hopefully skip the lawyers, swimming coaches and horse sellers to get to the “real” Danielle. It’s kind of like leaving clues for them to find you.


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