How can I preserve my online reputation?
As great as the Internet is for social-networking, there's an underlying issue of privacy which could have a negative impact on your job search.
The method of vetting candidates using search engines is now widely used by recruiters and is seen as a quick and easy way to find out more about the people wanting to work for their company.
For anyone who has been living in Timbuktu for the last few years (although I'd be surprised if it wasn't a Wi-Fi hotspot by now) there are countless platforms from which you can share your views online – Myspace, Twitter, Facebook , Blogger, Youtube , Digg and Wordpress are just a few of the household names.
The ethics and morals behind searching for your details online can be argued forever – the simple fact is it would be almost impossible to prove your application has been rejected due to a comment held somewhere on the internet. Most employers won't be particularly horrified by the inebriated photos of you on holiday, but there are some things that should be kept private to certain viewers.
If there is information about you held online you think may put off a potential employer, here are a few tips and tricks to make sure your credibility can be conserved.
Take a look at the privacy settings within your Facebook or MySpace account and always be sure to check the option that allows only friends to see your personal page.
However, this isn't a foolproof method for stopping people from seeing your actions. Just because your page is restricted, it doesn't mean a friend's page you have posted on is.
Mask your name
It's good practice never use your real name on the internet unless it's within a secure area. Try typing “Your Name” into Google to see what recruiters might see. If there's anything you'd prefer not to be there, contact the website in question to see if they will remove your details.
A friendly approach will usually work, but if you're getting little response it may be worth mentioning the Data Protection Act to see if it will spark any action.
Multiple email addresses
It's common sense that you shouldn't be using 'firstname.lastname@example.org' in the contact details on your CV, so try and make sure you have a separate email address for your personal and professional life. If you'd prefer not to be checking several accounts, hunt for a provider which allows one inbox to receive messages from various email addresses.
To get the best out of many websites you're usually required to sign up, and a large percentage of people will have a regular username they use on every site. Very often this will be the part preceding the @ in their email address.
Knowing this, any budding Inspector Clouseau could find out anything from your recent eBay purchases to some inflammatory comments you made on a past employer. It's a good idea to have a variety of pseudonyms to keep your privacy.
By not following these simple rules you could be alienating yourself from possible job opportunities without even having the chance to stake your claim.