Many companies and HR agents admit that before they consider inviting an applicant to a job interview, they often look the person up online in search of ‘warning signs’, such as problematic web activity or public posts that are not in line with the company’s values. This means that an undeleted profile or publication from five years ago, which no longer reflects your views, could prevent you from getting your dream job. Conversely, a well-curated online presence could be a deciding factor for being invited to an interview.
Check your privacy settings
One of the first things you should do is make a list of all the websites and social media channels where you have a private account. Then, you can check the privacy settings for each account and make sure your photos, posts and activity are not visible to the public. In the case of Facebook or Twitter, for example, you can make your posts visible only to people who are in your friend list/are following you. Some platforms offer you the option to view your profile as an external user. This will help you identify any public activity or information that you might want to make private.
If there are any professional social media profiles that you want to keep public (for example your LinkedIn account), make sure your account information is up to date and you are happy with your posts and activity on this platform.
Delete any problematic posts
Take the time to go through your activity in your social media accounts and other web profiles and remove any information that might be considered problematic by potential employers. For example, this might include public web activity containing controversial or explicit content. While you are going through your past activity and posts, think about how they would be perceived by a potential employer. If in doubt, it is better to remove/delete the post or make it private.
Review any personal/professional websites that you have
If you have a private website for your hobbies, for example, think about whether you want it to link to your name or email address. If you have a professional website to showcase your portfolio or services, make sure you are happy with the information presented there and that it is up to date. In case you have any old websites that you no longer update, consider archiving them if it is easier.
Search for your name and email address online
This is one of the most common ways in which employers would first look you up. Search for your name between brackets (e.g. “John Smith”) and do a separate search for your email address. Go through the first few pages of search results and check if you are happy with what you are seeing. Make sure to check what images are related to your search queries too. If necessary, apply the tips above to get rid of these search results. Note that some websites might require you to contact their administrator and ask them to take down any information about you. Search results about your name or email address will not update immediately after your changes, so keep that in mind.
Check out these top questions that every jobseeker should ask at interviews.
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- Publication date
- 25 November 2021
- European Labour Authority | Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
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