What Employers Can Find Out About You Online

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When you're job searching, what you probably consider personal information can easily be found online by potential employers. In fact, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process – up from 11 percent in 2006. Fifty-four percent have decided not to hire an applicant, based on something they found on their profiles.

Hiding or deleting your profiles isn’t necessarily the answer, either: in the same survey, 57 percent said that they were less likely to interview a candidate that they couldn’t find online. (And even if you go social-media-free, Google might give you away – 69 percent of employers use search engines to look for information on applicants.)

Bottom line? It’s nearly impossible to avoid leaving a digital trail in this day and age, and you don’t necessarily want to go completely incognito. Social media can help you develop your personal brand, connect with influencers in your industry, and bolster your own reputation with hiring managers.

But you need to know how to curate your online presence, so that employers see what you want them to see – and not embarrassing photos from spring break or deal-breaking comments on political posts.

Knowing that many employers actually do research job applicants is the first step toward maintaining a professional reputation online.

What Employers Can Find Out About You

There are many ways for employers to find out more about you. A few include email, messaging platforms like Slack and Google Hangouts, blogs, and the content and photos you post on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. It's quite easy for employers to find information you may have preferred to keep private.

Take the time to periodically check all the information you have (or someone else has about you) online, so you can make sure you don't get any unpleasant surprises during the hiring process. Here's a quick list of what you should check:

Job Search Internet Checklist

  • Email
  • Messaging accounts
  • Google and other search engines
  • Blogs
  • Facebook and other social networking sites
  • Forum / Bulletin Board Posts

Email / Instant Message
Your email address and messaging screen name(s) should be professional. Your email messages should include a signature that includes your phone number, so it's easy for employers to contact you.

One way to avoid mixing business with pleasure is to have a dedicated email address and screen name that you use just for job searching.

Google
Have you Googled yourself to see what information people can find about you on the Internet? Make sure that what you find is appropriate for a potential employer to read. You might be surprised at what's there!

Blogs
If you have a blog, is there anything that you wouldn't want an employer or a colleague to read? Whether you write about your interviews, your current job, or your personal life, don't forget to review all your online information when job searching, because any potential employer could find it. If you have friends who write about you, check to make sure what they are writing is appropriate.

Social Networking Sites
Do you have an account on a social networking site, like Twitter or Facebook? Believe it or not, employers do check these sites. Take a look at your profile, your pictures, and who is linked from your site and vice versa. Is there anything you wouldn't want a potential employer to see? If you're concerned, make your profile private and be careful what you put on the front page. Anyone may be able to see the information on that page, even if your profile is private.

Online Job Search Privacy

It's important to protect your privacy when job searching online. Here's information on how to keep your personal information confidential and how to protect your privacy.

Even though you should be able to have a personal life online, employers want to find out as much about as candidates for employment as they can.

There are ethical issues regarding how deeply employers should look for information, but there's nothing stopping them from getting as much dirt on you as they can. So, be careful what you share – you're not just sharing it with your friends, you're sharing it with the world.