In today’s world, a potential employer has many more ways than before to learn about your background in a short period of time. So you must assume that employer has studied your “online footprint” before you even arrive at an interview. Odds are you’ve been searched on Google®, Facebook® ,LinkedIn®, and any other site that pops up. Maybe you don’t use social networking sites; even so you would probably be surprised at what’s “out there.” Your photo was taken at a meeting you attended and then used on the organization’s website. A quote you made was used on another site. Most of these posts are harmless, but there are situations that need to be addressed. For example, Dan was involved in a lawsuit in his previous job. Although the case was settled and his name was cleared, this fact still showed up in a search of his name. It was a red flag for employers. So he addresses this issue as soon as he can up front in his cover letter, if needed, or at the very least during an interview because he assumes the potential employer will find out about it at some point. While it’s touchy to know whether to bring something up or wait until it’s exposed, I recommend bringing it up. It shows it’s not awkward for you, indicates you are proactive, and that you have nothing to hide. Even if the potential employer hasn’t seen documentation online, it’s better to err on the side of honesty.
Action step: Google yourself; take down anything from your social sites that could be misinterpreted. You want to be as informed about yourself as any future employer is likely to be.
Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. Her team of coaches helps people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.HallieCrawford.com for more information about her teams career coaching services and to sign up for a complimentary consultation.