Be careful what you write online

Search employees on the webBecause it could cost you your job and it’s definitely true.

These days, Google and the rest of the search engines (eg. Live, Yahoo!, Ask and so on) have become the central location where everyone can find information about anyone or anything:

According to a recent survey by

One in four managers now ‘Google’ potential employees and 51% of applications were rejected because of what was found.

When asked to divulge the types of information discovered on the Web that caused them to dismiss potential employees, hiring managers pointed to the following:

  • 31% – candidate lied about qualifications
  • 25% – candidate had poor communication skills
  • 24% – candidate was linked to criminal behavior
  • 19% – candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee
  • 19% – candidate posted information about them drinking or using drugs
  • 15% – candidate shared confidential information from previous employers
  • 12% – candidate lied about an absence
  • 11% – candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs
  • 8% – candidate’s screen name was unprofessional

Hiring managers said the following information discovered on the Web helped to confirm their decision to hire a candidate:

  • 64% – candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job
  • 40% – candidate was well-rounded, showed a wide range of interests
  • 34% – candidate had great communication skills
  • 31% – candidate’s site conveyed a professional image
  • 31% – got a good feel for the candidate’s personality, could see a good fit within the company culture
  • 23% – other people posted great references about the candidate
  • 23% – candidate was creative
  • 19% – candidate received awards and accolades

I often find myself Googling (for employee, business or general research reasons) e-mail addresses, names, businesses. That’s the case for other employers too. Most of them search your name in the search engines, trying to find online references and discussions, simply because they know how to do it and because they found that this works brilliantly to their advantage. Those online references make his decision about you easier and shed some impartial light on his opinion about you (other than your interview or CV references).

So be careful what you write on the Internet. If your CV states perfect C# programming skills (or Expert Search Marketing Consultant) and your employer finds you on the Internet asking how to install Visual Studio (or how to search inbound links in Google) or swearing and harassing people for no reason (like I do, but at least with solid reasons) that won’t be in your best advantage right ? …

Published by

Cristian Mezei

I am myself.

35 thoughts on “Be careful what you write online”

  1. When not acting under a pseudonym, it’s important to be discreet and professional on-line. Foremost is the issue of privacy, but also the damaging effects it can have on careers. The day will come when this issue explodes into mainstream conciousness; a politician’s career will be destroyed in the first concerted mud-raking program which targets their on-line history.

  2. You are absolutely right. I am doinf it myself, however I consider that this practice should be avoided, because it can lead to wrong results:

    1. There can be more than one person with the same name (for example my case, where I have a book author, but also a member in immigration forums named exactly lile me)

    2. The candidate can be a victim of somebody else’s attack (for example I post offensive comments or questions on public forums using your name as pseudonym)

  3. Good article and very true. People should maintain a seperate e-mail address or an alias for leisure activites and personal interactions that are viewable to others online. Sometimes this can be hard, but remembering that you can be held accountable for what you say/post can go a long way.

  4. I indulge in a bevy of internet websites and have been since the late 90’s. My full name has never, ever been used once. It seems that my paranoia has paid off.

  5. A good practice would be to google yourself every couple of months just as a possible employer might google you. Search for your name, use proper search techniques such as “your name” + JOBSEARCH SITE. You can be discreet, but you don’t have to be paranoid about everything. Knowing what is publicly accessible online about you is usually enough to prevent any of these situations

  6. Steven: “When not acting under a pseudonym” – How can you build up a name for yourself if you don’t reveal your identity ? I think using your name is a good tehnique always, as long as you write interesting issues, help others, resolve problems etc.

    Cristian: Posting under a false name can indeed hurt the real owner of that name, but these situations can be easily deducted.

    Larry: You’re like a 007 right ? :-)

    Blair: I google myself yes :-)

  7. Not to nitpick but Google isn’t a verb. Notice how your “quote” isn’t actually in the article. Also, you should just link directly to the article on Digg, not to your regurgitated blog.

  8. Lex.

    Google is a (transitive) verb: Check (Merriam-Webster:

    Main Entry: goo·gle
    Pronunciation: ‘gü-g&l
    Function: transitive verb
    Inflected Form(s): goo·gled; goo·gling /-g(&-) li[ng]/
    Usage: often capitalized
    Etymology: Google, trademark for a search engine
    : to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web

  9. Lex, articles usually add additional light an a small review by the poster, to any source.

    Don’t you agree ?

    PS: (I am trying very hard not to call you retarded).

  10. if a hiring manager turned me down because of something i’ve done in my spare time that has NO effect on my will or ability to work hard, then i’m better off. i wouldn’t want to work for some holy rolling better-than-thou SOB like that anyway. there’s a word for that, by the way — it’s called discrimination. so what if i post about drinking? what are you, southern baptist? OH, that’s religious prejudice right there. don’t like my provocative photos? i’m sorry, that’s my right. prejudice. unprofessional screen name? sorry, also has nothing to do with work. prejudice.

    this article is a waste of bits and serves only to instill fear into the minds of the weak. in no way will i allow the discriminatory and predatory practices of corporate america dictate my freedoms and you shouldn’t either.


  11. Know what? I don’t give a rusty fuck. People need to stop acting like the whole damn world is about working for some witless douchebag.

  12. I think this is very true. But that “Screen Name being Unprofesional” is funny.

    And infact, I keep a Google Alert for our team (after selection) so we know what the world is saying about us.

    On a sidenote — I like your “Spam me, and I’ll Spam you back 100 times”. Btw, I am not that good with Maths but your spam protection is something fishy. It tell me that 4+9 is not 13!

  13. I think that looking for information on a candidate must be done professionally, on-line or not. Just looking at a Google’s search is NOT the way, unless you can verify the identity of the author of a page. If a hirer thinks he’s SO smart because he got some information about a candidate on-line, definitely it’s better to look for another hirer!!

  14. It could work both ways! I think you should never associate yourself with anything negative, just as you wouldn’t in real life, so why would you associate your real name/identity with something negative. But, being an webmaster it should be easy for most to make their real name/identity get praise and rank high in the SERPs so when/if an employer searches for your name then your name is associated with all things positive and the employer is even more eager to hire you. Create yourself a WIKI page with your name! :-)

    I have used the technique of searching names and usernames for years, I refer to it as “username stalking”, I mainly use it to find new websites and webmaster hangouts or webmaster resources. If I like something someone has posted on a discussion board and they seem to have some intelligence or success, then I try to hang out where they hang out and to do so, I must do some “username stalking”. :-)

  15. Blogging on websites and popular online communities is a two-edged sword. The concerns expressed regarding candidates missing opportuntities is well founded but much more can be said about the upside when college graduates recognize the potential. Facebook, Myspace, Xanga, and others is a great place for self-promotion that provides opportunities in the typical resume or CV. A perfect example is your photograph. Extensive behaviorl science studies have documented the impact of visual presentation and first impressions. Unless you are moving into a performing arts career, a photograph with your resume presents a potential EEO violation to potential empoloyers. Not so with the web. The internet is considred a public domain and fair game for background investigation of candidiates. Therefore, in this case having professionally taken photograph for your blog or “space” can provide a competitive advantage. Similarly, we all recognize the HR perspective on he amount of content and length for college graduate resumes. Again, a students web space is a great place to add detail and content that would normally be truncated. Schools and Universities establishing structured web-portfolios clearly are leading the charge on providing an advantage to students and graduates. Yes, all the comments and cautions are valid, now let’s focus on how can we use this to our advantage. You might consider this a personal tip in “Career Judo.”

    …If you asked me.

  16. Therefore, in this case having professionally taken photograph for your blog or “space” can provide a competitive advantage.

    I agree John. But when you write in forums or other locations, swearing others or acting like a totally unprofessional troll, it may hurt more then help, no matter if your pictures are good or not.

    University homepages are a totally different spot, simply because I never found one student that wrote bull in their university homepage. Those are usually self-educated people and learn a lot about socializing and behavioure in public, from their teachers.

    Thanks for your comment.

  17. A savy webmaster could easily outrank any negative information by SEOing their name.

    Hmmm I might start a business covering up shady pasts…

  18. About 20 people search my name on Google, daily.

    Or at least that’s what I see in this blog’s refererrs (and I am #1 with this blog, on all search engines, for my name).

  19. or swearing and harassing people for no reason (like I do, but at least with solid reasons)

    How exactly does one swear ‘for no reason’ but do it ‘with solid reasons’ at the same time? If you applied to me and I googled your name, you’d probably fall under…

    25% – candidate had poor communication skills

    P.S. This isn’t my real name, I don’t want future employers to think I’m a smartarse.

  20. 8% – candidate’s screen name was unprofessional
    This is best one. Still you can find some
    thousand entries on google if you’re looking
    for my name.

  21. Hello everyone, I need your advice on something. Somebody has recently accessed my email after I left it logged on a public computer. He then sent very very profane emails to websites and they published it under my name and now I don’t know what to do. The websites say that they won’t remove it. Please someone help me, this is very disturbing to me.

  22. What a bunch of bullshit. This movement is nothing but a subtle way to ruin the free speech that once propelled the Internet. Thanks to the “Supreme” Court, the First Amendment has been raped. Employers are now kings. I say, depose them, by any means necessary.


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