By now you've heard it a thousand times - be careful what you post online. Employers are looking you up, finding your Facebook and MySpace pages and anything else you've posted to learn more about you. What you posted online yesterday or five years ago could prevent you from getting a job, and it could get you fired.
Online searches are a 21st century addition to the old fashioned background checks many employers have used for years. They look for criminal records, and may even look up your credit rating.
At a small company and for entry-level jobs, an online search might be done by a manager with a few minutes and Google. Maybe they'll find you, maybe not.
At a big company and for high-level jobs, they're likely to hire a company like Fetch Technologies to do the search for them. They have access to all sorts of online databases, and they utilize computer programs to analyze the data they find about you. Here's how Fetch describes their FetchCheck Pre-Employment Services on their website:
FetchCheck uses artificial intelligence technology and machine learning to systematically access online data sites, easily handling changing data formats and site irregularities. It then finds, extracts, filters and aggregates candidate background information that can be integrated to flow directly into your screening fulfillment process. Best of all, using FetchCheck eliminates the potential for human error, always delivering the most accurate, real-time data available.
Makes you nervous about those old high school photos your friends have been posting on their Facebook pages, doesn't it?
Here are a few tips for job seekers:
- Google yourself and see what you find
- If you've posted something online that you wish you hadn't, take it down now
- If a friend has posted something you wish wasn't online, ask them to take it down
- Learn how to "un-tag" yourself from Facebook photos
- Check your privacy settings on Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites to make sure that only the people you've given permission to can see the details. If you don't know about those privacy settings, learn now
- If you can't get the bad stuff down, then start posting good stuff that you'd prefer people to see
- Don't volunteer information in a job interview, but be prepared to answer questions about it if you're asked
Remember, once it's posted online, it's there forever. You may not be able to take it down, but over time you may be able to push the bad stuff down in a Google search. Still, a company like Fetch is going to find much more about you that what's online.
The Ad Council recently did a series of PSAs targeting young girls, but the lessons are relevant to job seekers too. Remember to Think Before You Post