ALC Consulting

April 18, 2009

Clean Up Your Room!

Filed under: Contracting — Anne Cloward @ 6:03 pm

Note to self: the audience for this column is job seekers who are wired.

Having successfully raised four children, one of the most used phrases I ever uttered was, “Clean up your room!” Not that it ever worked, mind you, but when they get to be adults, it’s not my problem anymore.

Like the old rule about never wearing white shoes until after Memorial Day, I was always taught that a lady only has her name published in the paper three times in her life, the day she is born, the day she is married and the day she dies.

How times have changed. Today, many young people assume that everyone is as absorbed in their lives as they are and hang on to their every word and image in their blog, on their social networking pages, and anywhere else on the web they tend to gather. It’s called your “web presence.” You all have them.

Perhaps that is fine when you are young and unemployed, but things change when you start looking for a job. Posts that seem perfectly normal to you, may signal something entirely different to a hiring manager.

I am sure you may have Googled yourself, but try this site, which is much more inclusive and perhaps damaging

Employers have discovered a whole new way to screen and eliminate applicants for positions: they Google them. And those seemingly innocent pictures and words may come back to haunt you.

Here is a rather tame example, but one that demonstrates my point. The young man in the picture was a student at Harvard at the time. He had two pets, Mr. and Mrs. Monty Python. In addition to keeping his mother away, they also served as great conversations lines when meeting girls.

Fast forward to seven years later, and this young man is now starting his own company and needs to project a much more professional image, so his Linkedin profile photo looks like this:

What messes are out there in your virtual bedroom that may be lurking to bite you?

Look at your Internet presence from a potential manager’s point of view.

  • Pictures of you posted weekly where you are totally intoxicated and singing in a bar do not give the impression of someone who is responsible and could be counted on to pitch in during a weekend crunch. There is also the question of your driving habits in such a state, which could mean trouble with the law.
  • Pictures of you that show more skin than the ones that your mother has of you as an infant on a bearskin rug also do not present you as someone who knows how to be discreet in business negotiations or even doing customer service. Companies have dress codes, whether written or not, and this does not fit into their guidelines.
  • And a blog detailing all the X rated details of your latest amour or rantings about your present boss may cause hiring managers to cross your name off the list. They don’t want to hire someone whose life is constantly full of drama that that is out there for the world to see, and why hire trouble?

    One young woman got a terrific offer from a major firm, but blew it when she posted on her FaceBook page about what a drag it would be and how she would have to make major changes in her life, and how she was dreading that.

So, go clean up your room!



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