Thursday, January 22, 2015
Because there aren't enough important things to be paranoid about, there's that keg stand you did that one time
Stuff you might post online to share with a few hundred of your besties could be the exact stuff that keeps you from being pursued for a job. Back when I was recruiting, I refused to search my candidates online. I figured we all have lives outside of work and unless it interferes with someone's ability to get his/her job done (and as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else), I don't really care what you do with your free time. I think it's the reason most tech companies don't do drug testing.
But not all employers/recruiters feel that way. Because I guess some people are looking for reasons to say no? I'm not sure. But there are enough companies out there that care what you do on social media for you to at least be mindful. You might say "well, I wouldn't want to work for them anyway", but keep it mind it might be one recruiter at an otherwise awesome company.
Instead of doing a "clean-up" of your online exposure, I recommend just approaching your use of social media as if anyone can see what you post, and then checking your privacy options regularly. This kind of thinking has helped me establish some guidelines for myself. For example, I don't talk about my clients online. I try to stay out of heated discussions of politics or religion; not always successful, but I err on the side of human rights which feels like a safe bet (in life, in general). I try not to complain about work (we all have bad days but your bad day diatribe can live on in infamy if you make it public. Besides, it's boring.). And I generally don't post any photos that I wouldn't want to show to my elder relatives...the ones I actually like.
"Others can see this" is always in the back of my mind.
Taking an evening to go on an ego-surfing expedition is a good activity to do from time-to-time as well. It will help you uncover anything connected to you that has been posted by others and will also help you see how public some of the things you posted are. What you shouldn't do is stick your head in the sand (in a literal sense, you definitely should not do this) and hope for the best. If there's stuff out there, at least know about it so you can craft your story. "Well, there's a funny story about that kegstand. I was doing it for charity."