Keep Your Online Persona Clean!

by Brittany Warrick
SDN Staff Writer

The online world has evolved substantially over the past decade. Today it is commonplace for students to have a presence on social sites such as Facebook, Xanga, LiveJournal, or MySpace. But what most students do not appreciate is the fact that potential employers and schools may use these sites to evaluate their applicants.  They use them to weed out candidates for their positions and to decide if a potential employee is the type of person that would make a good “fit”.  Thus, our pages on Facebook and MySpace have become additions to our resumes and personal statements. One survey conducted by ExecuNet in 2007 found that 83% of recruiters use the Internet to evaluate their candidates and 43% of those have turned down a candidate based on what they saw online. The burning question is: how can students protect their personas on the Internet? 

The first step is to lock down your sites so that you can control who gains access. This will protect the information that you post online. However, it is important to remember that many institutions may hire students or have sites themselves and they could request access to your site.

The next step is to stop and ask yourself, “Would I put this information in my resume or personal statement?” A picture of you drunk at a party is clearly not a good way to promote yourself. Also, if you choose to blog about your stance on controversial topics or rant just to blow off steam, do not use your full name. It is also important to make sure that your friends do not post inappropriate pictures or information about you on their sites.

The last thing is to use your online presence to advertise your good qualities. You can post information about your leadership, maturity, growth and potential. According to the 2007 ExecuNet survey, some 70% of recruiters have said that finding positive information about a candidate would increase the applicant’s chance of getting a position.

As a safeguard, it is always a good idea to periodically run a Google search on your name and determine what information is out there. If there is negative information then try to counteract it by increasing the positive information. You can do this by starting a blog about your professional and personal growth or writing articles for a Web site.

The main thing is to keep a clear head when posting information about yourself on the Internet. It would be a shame to lose out on an opportunity because of something posted on a MySpace page. Keep it clean and professional and sites may be able to work for you.

References

Cooper, Lauren. Protecting your online reputation. Young Money. Available at http://education.incharge.org/careers/advice/79
Accepted to College.com. http://acceptedtocollege.com/planning/online-presence/

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18 Responses to “Keep Your Online Persona Clean!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is actually pretty interesting. Ive heard of employers doing this before, but really didnt believe it. I just dont see how graduate schools be it dental, medical, pharmacy or whatever have the time, money and resources to go online and look at everyones facebook????? Especially with most medical schools getting 5000+ applications

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s true for employment at least. We recently decided to “facebook” some applicants for an entry level at my university. Needless to say, some of those people who had open access to their profiles should privatize that stuff immediately. Too many drunk and partying pictures in compromising positions. Yeah, that’s not how you’re gonna get a job. I’d recommend everyone to Google themselves to see what comes up, and make sure all online profiles are set to private.

  4. MaximusD says:

    If my drinking pictures are too much for a potential employer, then I sincerely don’t want to work with them. I don’t do anything that I am ashamed of. If I go out drinking to blow off steam after an exam and some pictures go up on facebook, so what? That said, as a precaution I only allow facebook “friends” to see my photos and I keep my profile pic relatively innocent.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If I want my profile to be private, it should be private. If they maliciously bypass my settings, they violate my rights to privacy. Such a violation should be make illicit if it already isn’t.

  6. Anonymous says:

    ^^^ Blind lol

  7. shmrshines says:

    phew!! my myspace is safe!!! Wow, good info I never thought about that…

  8. Melissa says:

    Wow, that is just wrong. Myspace and related sites are to keep in touch with friends and possibly make new ones. Everyone is entitled to a private life and employers or grad schools should respect that. I’m sure if we look hard enough we could find stuff on alot of “important” people. I mean, my profile on myspace is public and I don’t mind who looks at it. But I feel a bit cheated if someone wouldn’t hire me because maybe they didn’t like my friends list, interests or whatever. Eh, I suppose we have to play along until we get our acceptance or land the job we’d like.

  9. Anonymous says:

    A medical school admissions committee member at a top-20 school told me that he routinely googles and checks the facebooks of people he’s interviewing. Also, it’s not just what you have on your own page; if you’re tagged in friends’ photos, these will come up on a search.

  10. Anonymous says:

    These sites are definitely checked by admissions committees of professional schools. They are easily accessed and crossed checked by name. Resources for admissions committess are not that tight especially when it comes down the the time investment that will go into a professional student. Believe me, they check so clean up your online pages now. It’s easy to Google a name

  11. Anonymous says:

    My residency director googled me before I did a sub-i at his program. I thought he was joking until he started asking me about stuff that had popped up on his google search. Don’t worry…all professional! But it’s a good reason to keep an eye on what’s on the internet about you, and google yourself once in a while.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Employers or Schools that look at your facebook or myspace pictures are not violating your right to privacy! If you want these photos to be private do not post them on the WORLD WIDE WEB. No one is saying that you cannot have the pictures. Just be careful with who sees them.

  13. MiraCheskis says:

    Thank you SO much. This has inspired me to go ’round the net NOW (two years to go on a Bachelors) instead of in a year or two… :)

    Thank you!! Excellent article!

  14. anonymous says:

    what about people with the same name as you and their sites pop up on google? what if a school discriminates against you based on a profile/pictures that they think is you, but isn’t? how closely do they look to make sure it is the actual student?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Maybe you shouldn’t even HAVE a Myspace or Facebook site.
    And maybe they don’t use google, but altavista or yahoo or whatever else, so check those, too!

  16. elle says:

    Recently I ran a google search on my name and weird sites came up…ones that I am not affiliated with, but random words are used in in the search title. And by weird, I mean inappropriate. How do I remove my name from linking up with these websites?

    I suggest everyone google their name. signing up for anything online can get your name into a search database that could be used inappropriately.

    Anyone have this problem and know how to solve it?
    Its just weird to see my journal article abstracts listed and then right after have an inappropriate site follow after.

  17. marscole says:

    i did google search and tons of unrelated-exactly “me” lol…

  18. Amanda says:

    Elle- I think like the article said- you can control the first sites that come up on a google search just by increasing your presence on the internet- be it through your own website, blog, or writing articles for other sites. This will push your inappropriate, unfortunate namesakes down on the list so at least they aren’t as prominent…