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.
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/