By By Susan P. Joyce
Over and over, I see job seekers under-estimating the reach of every-day technology and, consequently, sabotaging their own job search. The combination of e-mail, blogs, social media, and search engines can be very damaging to a successful job search.
Apply these guidelines to your use of other social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and others.
Last month, a job seeker posted a tweet in which he complained that his previous manager fired him based on "trumped-up charges." So he announced to the world that (1) he had been fired from his last job and (2) that there were "charges" against him. Yikes!
Neither of those disclosures would make him appealing to another employer, regardless of the truthfulness of his statement.
A big red flag is flying over this job seeker for several reasons, not the least of which was that he disclosed this kind of information on Twitter for his followers to see and for the rest of the world to find via search engines.
If you must make rude, nasty, or inflammatory comments in social media, or share your biggest, baddest secret, don't do it with the same identity or accounts you use for your job search.
Blogs are fun, informative, and often controversial. It's very tempting to post a comment on a blog, but you need to be aware that - even if it is a "private" blog - tens or hundreds, if not thousands of other visitors to that blog may view your comments.
However, it's not safe to assume that only people interested in the subject being blogged will see your comments because of our good friends, the search engines (see below).
It's their job! The last time I noticed Google's count of the Web pages included in their database (around 2010), the number was 8,058,044,651 - that's over 8 BILLION Web pages! The other search engines also claim to have indexed billions of Web pages.
And that number must have more than doubled by now!
These days, what happens in Vegas, stays in Google, Bing, etc.
Recruiters and potential employers, as well as potential colleagues, creditors, etc., use Google 80% of the time or more, to see what's "out there" about you. See Job-Hunt's Defensive Googling article for more information.
Do your own Google search to see what will be found, and repeat that search periodically, even if you have always been very careful with e-mail and don't post to blogs. Someone else with the same, or a very similar name, may not be as cautious, and you could be assumed to be the person who made the faux pas or the damaging statements.
For content already pulled into the search engines -
It may take several months for the changes, assuming that they are made, to percolate through all the search engine databases.
Damage control - If the content cannot be removed, prepare a "damage control" plan - something to tell potential employers about the message or the posting that will present it in the most benign light possible.
Identity crisis - If comments made by someone else look like they were made by you, be sure to make that an important component of your damage control plan.
Technology can be our biggest friend, but it can be an enemy as well. As the old Hill Street Blues police sergeant used to tell the patrol officers at the start of every watch, "be careful out there!"
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.