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What your online history says about you

What your online history says about you

Have you ever thought how your past online activity could be viewed by potential employers? Do you know what images, posts and comments are publically available? If an employer is considering you for a role, they may check out your social media profiles and do a simple google search for your name before requesting an interview.  Be mindful that this not only includes content you have posted yourself, but may include content created by others including websites, blogs, videos and images.

Whilst employers should be mindful that relying on social media for recruitment can expose them to discrimination and privacy laws, they are allowed to view publically accessible information to help decide if a candidate would make a good cultural fit for their organisation, shows discretion and their spelling/grammar.   

We had a situation last year where one of our candidates was knocked back for a job because the employer found some information online that led them to believe she would not be a good cultural fit. The candidate unknowingly had some scantily clad images of herself which were publically available. She had forgotten about the photos and not realised her past activities may affect her future career prospects. 

Whilst this is a rare occurrence, it is a timely reminder to us all about how our personal online activities can impact on our professional lives.

Jane Carey, Director at Edge Recruitment says ‘As well as reviewing their own social media history, candidates should get someone else such as a respected business colleague to give them an objective opinion on it. Something that may not seem inappropriate may be viewed as inappropriate by an employer.’

Here are some things you can do to review your online history:

  • Review all photos and videos on sites you have a social media profile such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and remove anything that may give a negative impression. Images don’t often come with an explanation of the situation and can be taken out of context for this reason. To be safe, it’s best to remove them.
  • Employers may look unfavourably on any comments that show unsavoury or bigoted behaviour. Review comments posted on all of your social media sites and again remove anything that may be taken out of context.
  • Do a simple google search for your name. This will help to find any websites, blogs, articles or videos etc. that other people may have posted about you.  Don’t just view the web results; make sure you click on the images, video and news tabs too.
  • Regularly check your social media privacy settings. Sites like Facebook often make privacy updates and this may change what information is publically available and who can access it.

In a similar vein, have you also considered what your email address says about you? These days it’s so easy to get a free gmail account, but we often see resumes sporting email addresses that are clearly meant for personal use such as: sparklygirl99@email, vinylguy@email or ilovemykitty@email. This gives your recruiter and employers the impression that you are not serious. Opt for something more professional, such as your name.

In a nutshell, our advice is to simply be aware of your online history and to look at it from the point of view of an employer who is trying to find out more about you. Have you googled yourself lately? You may be surprised at what you find.