If you’re one of a hundred applicants for a job in hospitality, a recruiter probably won’t bother typing your name into Google. But when they come to a shortlist, it’s more likely they'll idly check if you’re online to see what they can find out about you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; after all, if a recruiter finds out you have mutual friends, that might be a great recommendation.
But what about the other way round? What if they found photos from that time you got ridiculously drunk and somehow ended up with a traffic cone on your head?
See for yourself
The first and most obvious suggestion is to get a snaphot view of your presence on the web. to do this you need to use a deep search tool like Pipl. Just type in your name, and it will pull up your various online profiles, plus any content that's been published on you, including videos, photos, and mentions in blogs or articles.
Check your privacy settings
On Facebook, go to the account dropdown menu at the top right and click on privacy. There are several options, the most important of which is the one for profile information and the one for search. Look at what the settings are and make the appropriate changes.
You are what you tweet
The same goes for sites like Twitter. If you don't want the world and its wife to see your daily opinions, rants and/or musings, you need to protect your tweets and have people request to follow you instead of just clicking a button. And if you need proof of how twitter can mess up your chances of getting a job, look no further than the poor Cisco employee who tweeted about her 'fatty' paycheck and rubbish job.
Step back, see how you look
You might think it’s okay to have some things visible to everyone, other parts visible to friends of friends and the rest just visible to your friends. Only you can make the decision, but there’s a very helpful button in Facebook’s profile information labelled “preview my profile”. Clicking on this will show you how your profile will look to people who don’t know you at all.
It's who you know
When there are lists of things on your profile, such as friend lists or pages you're a 'fan' of, don’t forget they appear in a random order. If you’ve made any of those visible to everyone, think about what might come up – have any of your friends decided to use a hilarious picture of their private parts as their profile image?
Your own profile picture doesn’t have to be businesslike – after all, the recruiter should realise they’re prying into your personal life – but just bear in mind the impression you want to give when it comes to choosing a picture.
Also, if you're lucky enough to get a job, be careful who you 'friend' on Facebook during your probation period, an idle moan about your job a few months in could land you in a whole heal of trouble. Just ask this girl
Leave plenty of time
The search privacy options on Facebook are handy, but they're worth paying attention to well before you start applying for jobs. You can click the option to hide your page from search engines, but because of the way your information is indexed with the likes of Google, etc. the results are often a bit delayed; it might take a month or more for them to notice you’ve chosen to hide your page.
All these things, of course, are passive and depend on the employer having the inclination to search for you. But you can help yourself with the active stuff. So, when submitting your application, think about what they’re definitely going to see – like your email address. Have a think about who might open your application and whether you want them to know you’ve called yourself firstname.lastname@example.org. Maybe it’s time to get a second email address – but don’t forget to check it for responses!
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