How to Sabotage Your Job Prospects with Online Profiles

By Elizabeth Millard Print this article Print

Here is a look at how personal online profiles can sink your career prospects.

Maybe you’re happy at that passion-free, entry-level job, and the only reason the resumes keep getting sent out is to quell the anxiety of your parents, or reassure that fretting romantic partner that you’ve got ambition and drive. If that’s the case, there are plenty of ways to utilize the Internet to make sure that hiring managers never actually call.

Since so many of them now just type a candidate’s name into a search engine, or look for blogs and professional online profiles, here are a handful of methods for keeping your phone from jangling with job prospects:

Eliminate the Distinction Between Personal and Public
As a larger strategy, creating a digital persona that captures every mundane nuance of a person’s life is ideal for avoiding HR calls. Articulating every thought and presenting it for public consumption, no matter how inappropriate it might be for the corporate realm, is a sure-fire way to seem less professional than your peers.

“Your online persona is like a billboard that you present to the world,” says John Challenger, chief executive of executive outsourcing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “What would you put up there? Hopefully, it’s the reasons why you’re a great candidate.”

Personal blogs have their place, and HR managers aren’t going to balk because someone seems to love cats or wants his or her wedding photos to be shared. But having more personal information online than professional data—such as resumes, white papers and bio pages from former employers—shows an imbalance, Challenger adds.

Also, it could reveal poor decision-making qualities, notes Dr. Terry Gudaitis,
cyber-intelligence director at security firm Cyveillance. If someone spills personal secrets online, it may send up a red flag to a potential employer that the candidate is comfortable with disclosing more than he or she should.

Such free-flowing thoughts can also be detrimental to internal operations, Gudaitis adds, pointing to a case where a manager was going through a nasty divorce and posted a long diatribe on MySpace about how much he hated women. When some women working for him didn’t get promoted, they filed a class-action lawsuit and used the MySpace page as evidence.

Subvert the Dominant Corporate Usage Policy
For those who are employed, posts created during usual working hours but not on the lunch hour—say, Monday at 2:30 p.m.—emphasizes how much someone is willing to break corporate policies about using the employer’s network for personal use.

Extra points are awarded here if the comment includes an admission of being at work and shares some detail about a colleague, even if it’s thinly veiled, such as, “Boss with Terrible Goatee is hitting on the admin again.”

This article was originally published on 2008-06-03
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