Job hunters hire experts to clean up online image

Job hunters hire experts to clean up online image

By Stephanie Bagley
Mon Aug 6, 8:33 AM ET

Job hunters perfecting their resumes
for that dream job are being urged to also polish their online
profile — and clean it up if needs be, with a new breed of
companies emerging to help mold Internet images.

Recruitment experts advise job hunters to Google themselves
before stepping out into the competitive job market to see if a
search pull ups that blog entry written about legalizing
marijuana or drunken party photos with friends.

"The internet brings a new dimension to the application
process. Sometimes it can work to your advantage, and sometimes
to your disadvantage," employment Web site Careerbuilder.com
spokeswoman Jennifer Sullivan told Reuters.

Various surveys have shown that employers are using online
searches to check out potential candidates — especially as
some of the early Internet surfers become bosses themselves.

A study of 1,150 hiring managers by Careerbuilder.com found
26 percent of managers admitted to using search engines such as
Google and 12 percent of managers said they used social
networking sites like Facebook.com in their hiring process.

Those numbers may be low, but not the repercussions.

Of the 12 percent who checked social networking sites, 63
percent declined to hire an applicant based on what they found,
citing lying about qualifications and criminal behavior as two
of the top disqualifiers.

But with hiring managers and job seekers using new and
different ways to stay one step ahead of each other, new
technology has emerged to help both sides of the game.

For $10 a month, ReputationDefender.com will search your
name everywhere — even "beyond Google" — including
password-protected sites, and give a report of their findings.

For about $30 a month, clients can have them do a clean-up,
which involves ensuring all links to, for example, a college
kegstand on Facebook.com or a disparaging blog entry from a
former partner, will not appear during an online search.

"More than half of my clients use us just to search and
don’t even ask us to clean anything up," the company’s chief
executive and founder Michael Fertik, 28, told Reuters.

Fertik, a graduate from Harvard Law School, said it’s
important for everyone to know how they’re perceived online.

"Often pictures that are intrinsically innocuous get taken
out of context, and then can become punitive," said Fertik.

PROS AND CONS TO ONLINE PROFILES

While ReputationDefender.com caters to individuals not
employers, DefendMyName.com services both camps.

The two-year-old Portland, Maine-based company, a division
of QED Media Group LLC, will conduct an online clean-up for any
size client, from individuals to large corporations. Some
clients are companies seeking positive brand image online.

Using proprietary technology, company founder Rob Russo
said DefendMyName creates links to promotional sites and blogs
on clients in order to bury negative search engine results.

"Online searching has taken on an essential role in the
corporate world when people are scouting new employees. It is
becoming an actual part of the hiring process along with a
criminal background check," Russo told Reuters.

But it is not always to job seekers disadvantage that
potential employers can check them out online.

The Careerbuilder.com study found 64 percent of hiring
mangers had their hiring decision confirmed by information
found online and 40 percent of managers said their decision was
solidified by seeing that a candidate was "well rounded" and
showed a wide range of interests."

Beth Murphy, an advertising assistant in New York, whose
boss admitted to searching her profile on Facebook.com, said
being scoped out online helped her land the job.

"In seeing my Facebook profile, they thought I seemed like
a well-rounded person. They saw pictures of me doing service
work in Africa immediately followed by pictures of me hanging
out at a football tailgate," she told Reuters.

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