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Online Puts You On the Line

July 21, 2010 By: Michael Browne

Here’s a startling statistic I came across today: A survey of 1,100-plus HR professionals by Cross-Tab  found that 70 percent of recruiters have rejected a candidate for employment, simply based on text, photos or videos they discovered about that person online. I read this shortly after reading a piece about ways to make your online presence more professional. And while this research was specifically about hiring, it made me think about how what we put online often puts our reputations on the line.

You may not be looking for a job, but it’s important to know that everything you put out there stays out there. That drunken night in Cancun, the backbiting remarks about your old boss, the tales of annoying clients shared with other agents on Facebook…it’s all out there.

Not that many of us are going to find ourselves under scrutiny for any of this. (Maybe if the CIA ever takes my application seriously, these things will come back to haunt me.) Still, it certainly gives one pause. Self-editing may not be a bad thing. I doubt that any potential clients will be Googling your name or trying to find your personal Facebook page, but it’s better to err on the side of caution. As noted in this week’s feature, “8 Steps to a Professional Online Presence,”  you might have personal accounts on social media sites, but these should not be synonymous with your business persona. Be sure to use privacy controls to make sure your personal conversations and activities are not getting in the way of your business.

The Cross-Tab study noted that about eight in 10 respondents report they take at least some steps to keep their personal and professional profiles separate. The most common methods respondents employ are creating multiple profiles, keeping profiles anonymous, restricting access to personal sites, and refraining from publicly sharing which sites they use.

Just be smart. You never know who’s looking and what it could mean to a potential business relationship.


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