Rejected Outright for the Job Because of Their Online Image

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post, authored by Fred Whelan and Gladys Stone and is reprinted with their permission.

Business strategist and Webby Award winner David Allen Ibsen (runs business consultancy 5 Meetings Before Lunch)was helping one of his start-up clients with their organizationalneeds. Specifically, they were looking to make a couple of key hires.Ibsen tapped into his business/social network on LinkedIn to search andidentify potential candidates. "LinkedIn is great because you have theperson's resume right in front of you." He then gave the short list ofcandidates to his client who "Googled" each person's name to do abackground check.

The client put the names into two buckets: "People with a positiveweb presence" and "Not". The positives were called in for interviews,the rest were rejected outright. While these people had professionalLinkedIn profiles, they were dinged because of what they had on othersocial networking sites. A professional profile is great but it doesn'tmean you'll get a pass on them checking Facebook, Twitter or blogs youmay have written.

According to Ibsen, these people should consider taking a look at theirpersonal brand. "Just like my corporate clients who covet their brandreputation, individuals need to look at what type of story is beingtold about them online and make sure it matches who they are and howthey want to be perceived."

So, where should you start if you have a less than favorable web presence?

Facebook -Look at your profile photo. Is this how you would want to be judged bya potential employer? We know it's supposed to be just for friends, butthe reality is that your photo along with your profile's "likes" and"dislikes" are open to public review. Give your likes and dislikes thesame scrutiny. If you happened to be "tagged" ina photo, that picture could also make its way to a hiring manager orrecruiter. Let your friends know that you would rather not be tagged.

Twitter - Whatever you tweet can get retweeted, on and on. It's like the old Faberge shampoo commercials,"I told two friends, who told two friends" and before you know it, it'sout there in a big way. Tweets do fall off Google searches ratherquickly, which is the good news. If you need to do some damage controlon something you've tweeted, then tweet a number of positive things.

LinkedIn - Away to rebrand yourself here would be to raise your profile byanswering questions in your area of expertise. Also, review yourprofile for keywords and positioning. That can make a difference in howpeople find you and perceive you. We coached a woman who was aprofessor, author and speaker. Her profile emphasized her academicbackground, when she really wanted to focus on her writing and speakingengagements. This was an easy fix and got her more attention in theareas she wanted.

David Allen Ibsen: "The Internet and the rise of social media havechanged the rules in terms of how prospective employers do backgroundchecks. Even though the rules have changed, one thing still holds true- building a good reputation is invaluable."

People make the mistake of viewing LinkedIn as their professionalimage and consider Facebook and Twitter as their personal ones. Whileyou might make this distinction, hiring managers don't.

Ibsen: "Never post anything on the Internet you wouldn't want your mother - or boss - to see."

Fred & Gladys
Whelan Stone
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success

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