Job Seekers - Your Online Reputation Precedes You

Your Online Reputation, That Is
I've had had an ongoing conversation on Twitter with someone opening a fast food franchise outlet in the area. He's had a rough time finding qualified and willing workers for his establishment. This doesn't surprise me. I've had conversations with many food service managers in the area who tell me it's hard to find good team members.

I feel for him, because it's tough enough getting the construction completed, certifications, permits, supply contracts, etc. set up. You'd think with lingering unemployment lurking about he'd have no problem finding people willing to join his team. Even with many applicants, he said a challenge to find people with good attitudes he can train to do what he needs them to do.

First, only half of the people with whom he scheduled interviews even bothered to show up. That in itself is telling. Second, he pre-screened applicants, checking their online spaces, and disqualified a few applicants because of things found in their Facebook profiles.

Your Online Reputation Matters!
He mentioned one applicant entered "Smoking Big Joints" as one of his interests. Another entered "Legalize Marijuana" as his interest.

I don't want to get into the politics of things and do believe in one's private life being private. But, how private your life is depends a great deal on how much you post online. Smoking marijuana and taking other illegal substances is considered such a liability in employment that many companies routinely screen new applicants for drug use. Coming up positive on a pre-employment screening means automatic disqualification. Many companies even go so far as to randomly screen all employees for drug use. This being the case, it really doesn't make sense to advertise your use of such substances in a very public forum.

My friend is certainly not alone in his use of social media to screen potential hires. Consider this Mashable article by Erica Swallow from October 2011: How Recruiters Use Social Networks to Screen Candidates. This type of search is routine now and job seekers should expect that they will be "googled" when they apply for a job.

I once had a very interesting conversation with a colleague whose daughter was getting ready to apply for teaching jobs. She went through Facebook and "untagged" herself anywhere she could find herself "tagged" - regardless whether the picture could be considered "bad" or not. She didn't want to take any chances.

Job Seekers: Market Yourself
Whether you realize it or not, you are a brand. When seeking employment, you have to market yourself in a similar way a company markets its brand. You have to show potential employers you have skills and the right attitude to be part of the team. If your career goal is to work in a head shop, then advertising the fact that you smoke marijuana might be a positive thing. However, if you want to work somewhere else, you might want to think twice about putting that fact in a public forum.
Some may be thinking to themselves, "That's not fair." Whether it's fair or not is beside the point. This is where the job market is and you need to take your overall online reputation into consideration.

Krista Neher shared some great tips on checking, and building, your online reputation as part of getting ready to look for a job.

Current Employees Also Need To Consider This
If you are already employed, you might also consider what you post online and how your management might feel it reflects on them. This past weekend I told some business-owner friends about this article which prompted them to tell me about a problem they had with a former employee. He "friended" them and "liked" their Facebook page, which is nice. But, he routinely posted profanity-laced tirades against people he felt slighted him. They were concerned about how these posts might reflect upon their business.

I'm not for businesses having the ability to muzzle their staff online. However, it is worth thinking about how your actions reflect on the people who pay you salary. Whether you realize it or not, everyone is brand ambassador. Would you want your online actions to hinder your company's ability to do business?

Employers also need to consider this. How much is too much when it comes to your team members potential damage to your reputation? It's a good idea to consider this and create some sensible policies for this eventuality.

What say you? Have you run into any problems hiring or getting hired because of something posted online? Have you taken steps to clean up your online reputation? Please feel free to share in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Next Chapter with WrightIMC

On to the next chapter in my career! Today is my first day with WrightIMC - a Dallas, Texas-based full service digital marketing agency. I&...