The Invisible Web Is Not So Invisible...
It is imperative that job seekers realize that the Internet makes it possible for people to find information about you that you may be surprised to learn is so easily accessible. In fact, experts note that there are two Internets: the easily visible one you access via searching Google, Yahoo, and Bing, for example, and the deep Internet, also known as the deep web, the invisible web, and the underweb.
To be fully aware of what people can learn about you online, you should keep an eye on the invisible web.
Information about your recent political campaign donation, your comments (or complaints) about a retailer or person, Tweets complaining about your boss, off-color comments about a sports team or player, and your preferences on a bridal registry are all possible topics that you and others may find when searching using databases that troll the deep web.
One job seeker I knew mentioned that an interviewer had commented about her musical tastes, which was something he only would have known had he visited her (private) Facebook page or seen comments she posted on an online site.
It is possible that a focused search pulled up the information she thought was well hidden.
Since the band was not controversial, she did not suffer any consequences from the employer knowing about her musical interests, but had they found a long-forgotten shoplifting charge or something else damaging, it might have impacted her chances to land the opportunity.
Don’t assume anything is obscure and non-searchable; be careful about what you post online. While you cannot control certain information that prospective employers may find (a bankruptcy, a domestic dispute, etc.), much of your online reputation is in your hands:
Think before posting a rant about an organization or person.
Stop before sending an unflattering tweet about your boss or neighbor.
Be aware that everything you do online is indexed and accessible.
Use these resources to learn what the deep web knows about you:
Search for your own name in these sites to help you understand what a prospective employer will find. If you share a name with an unflattering “twin,” be aware of it so you may combat the association by creating a stronger online presence.
Your career is in your hands. Employers are searching online to learn about you; be aware of what they are finding.
© Copyright Miriam Salpeter, 2010. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
About this Expert
Miriam Salpeter is a Career Action Coach and Owner of Keppie Careers. With a master’s degree from Columbia University and over 12 years of experience, her mission is to encourage, enlighten and empower job seekers and entrepreneurs for success. She teaches best practices to land great career opportunities and offers clients clarity, confidence, and social media know-how. You may follow her @Keppie_Careers and join her Facebook community for frequent updates.