When you sit down for a job interview, assume that the people on the other side of the table have run a Web search on you and peeked at your social media pages. Even if you’re not looking for work, keeping your online persona clean will serve you well when a recruiter, business contact or even your current employer looks you up.
7 Ways Job-Seekers Sabotage Themselves
Orchestrate your search results. Knowing what’s out there is the first step. See what pops up when you search your name with Google, and set up a Google Alert (opens in new tab) of your name to monitor the Web for its use. You’ll get an e-mail notification each time new information involving your name appears in the search engine.
Your biggest concern should be what appears on the first page of Google search results, which is as far as many people will look. Try to push positive content you’ve created to the top, especially if something unflattering about you turns up. For example, build a Web site—WordPress (opens in new tab) is a popular platform for beginners—using your name as the domain, if it’s available. Post your résumé and any articles or papers you’ve written, says Mary Ellen Slayter, a career expert for job-search site Monster. Making insightful comments on articles you’ve read and blogging in your area of expertise can help make your search results shine, too. If other people with the same name are competing with you for top Google results, you may want to differentiate your name—say, by using a middle initial.
Clean up your social media profiles. Any public pages you have on social networking mega sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, will likely rise to the top of search results for your name. You don’t necessarily need to sterilize your pages, but you should delete any offensive comments that you or anyone else has posted on your page. Photographs of you enjoying time with friends and family show a well-rounded life and personality. But pictures of you grasping drinks at bars and parties—especially if you have just graduated from college—could be problematic.
Deactivating your social media accounts to remove compromising information is tempting, but it could backfire, Slayter says. A Web search for your name may end up yielding more negative or irrelevant content—for instance, sites listing your name and address or your online reviews of restaurants and hotels. And a potential employer may be suspicious of your behavior or unimpressed if you disappear from the map.
Harmonize with the “real” you. Besides ferreting out red flags, employers want to see how well a job candidate’s online presence matches the rest of the candidate’s profile, says Lida Citroen, owner and principal of LIDA360, which specializes in reputation management. Your cover letter and résumé may sell you as energetic and Web-savvy, but a languishing LinkedIn page won’t support it. As you build your online presence, think about how you want people to perceive you, and try to be authentic. (But not too authentic. Peppering curse words throughout blog posts probably isn’t a winning idea.) “It’s a lot easier to be you than to be someone else,” Citroen says.
Face the music. Prepare a response to questions you may receive about any unfavorable material on the Web that you can’t remove—scandalous photos, a criminal record, blog posts from detractors. Often, a potential employer is as interested in how you reply as in the issue itself, Citroen says. You could explain what you learned from a business failure or describe how you’ve developed since an incident during your college years.
Lisa has spent 15 years with Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and heads up the magazine’s annual rankings of the best banks, best rewards credit cards, and financial-services firms with the best customer service. She reports on a variety of other topics, too, from retirement to health care to money concerns for millennials. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.
State "Stimulus Checks" Are a Thing in 2022 – Will You Get One?
To help counter high inflation, pandemic woes and other financial hardships, some states are sending tax rebate "stimulus" checks or other payments to residents.
By Rocky Mengle • Published
How Young People Can Own Their Financial Future Authentically
It starts with trusting the process. The good news is Gen Zers and younger Millennials are on their way, a new study says.
By Margaret Franklin, CFA • Published
Watch Out for Flood-Damaged Cars from Hurricane Ian
Buying & Leasing a Car In the wake of Hurricane Ian, more flood-damaged cars may hit the market. Car prices may rise further because of increased demand as well.
By Bob Niedt • Published
What You Need to Know About Life Insurance Settlements
life insurance If your life insurance payments don’t seem worth it anymore, consider these options for keeping the value.
By David Rodeck • Published
The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards
credit cards Business road warriors and leisure travelers alike can use a travel reward card to turn miles logged into other things – including more travel.
By Lisa Gerstner • Published
Is Relief from Shipping Woes Finally in Sight?
business After years of supply chain snags, freight shipping is finally returning to something more like normal.
By David Payne • Published
What Is an APR?
credit & debt Even for those who pay off their credit card balances every month, knowing your APR is part of keeping good credit habits.
By Rivan V. Stinson • Published
How Big Will the Fed Rate Hike Be? Wall Street's Top Minds Weigh In
interest rates The Fed rate hike announcement is due out Wednesday afternoon, and markets are anticipating another monster increase.
By Dan Burrows • Published
Amazon Early Prime Access Sale Is a Prime Day Redux
Amazon Prime Prime Day: So nice they had to try it twice. A fall event will follow the model of blowout sales over two days. But it will come with a different name.
By Bob Niedt • Last updated
The Best Cash-Back Credit Cards
Smart Buying Not interested in miles, points or other perks from your credit card? For those who want money back with a minimum of games, these cash-back cards are the way to go.
By Lisa Gerstner • Published