Be careful what you write online

October 30th, 2006 - Filed under Tips & Tricks by Cristian Mezei
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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 ? …

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35 Comments so far

Steven said:
October 30th, 2006

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.

Cristian Dinu said:
October 30th, 2006

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)

Henry said:
October 30th, 2006

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.

October 30th, 2006

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.

Blair said:
October 30th, 2006

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

October 30th, 2006

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 :-)

Lex said:
October 30th, 2006

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.

Chris Miller said:
October 30th, 2006

If you are born with a name like Chris Miller, life is good.

Chris Miller said:
October 30th, 2006


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

October 30th, 2006

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).

pulse said:
October 30th, 2006

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.


Horatiu said:
October 30th, 2006

Great article. I’m glad to see my romanian fellows having an awesome blog.


October 30th, 2006

Give me an A, Give me a B, Give me BMW. :-)

October 31st, 2006

Lex, it seems that ‘Google’ has become synonymous with the word ‘search’.

God said:
October 31st, 2006

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.

Horatiu said:
October 31st, 2006

yeah, a BMW for everybody would be nice :)

Brajeshwar said:
October 31st, 2006

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!

October 31st, 2006

If my spam protection tells you that 4+9 is not 13, then 4+9 is not 13 :D

Brajeshwar said:
October 31st, 2006

@Cristian, right, LOL.

Ruth said:
October 31st, 2006

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!!

Ant Onaf said:
November 1st, 2006

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”. :-)

November 2nd, 2006


My name is Chris Miller…or is it?

Chris Miller

November 2nd, 2006

Chris. Actually your name is T*m H*d*s*n and you are impersonating Chris Miller ? ;)

John Brown said:
November 3rd, 2006

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.

November 3rd, 2006

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.

jaybong said:
November 4th, 2006

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

Hmmm I might start a business covering up shady pasts…

thedark said:
November 4th, 2006

when you post on forums or blogs, don’t use your real name, you can use a pseudonim.

November 17th, 2006

Interesting article. I have noticed that a number of people reach my blog having entered my name into search engines….

November 17th, 2006

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).

Bob Jones said:
December 20th, 2006

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.

john beck said:
February 7th, 2007

So, my screen name of bedeboop is unprofessional and will get me canned before I even start…..pity.

August 16th, 2007

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.

August 31st, 2007

I Googled each and every one of the guys that sent me CVs. I Google most of my enquiring clients too. It’s a very useful business tehnique.

Donald Schwartz said:
October 24th, 2007

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.

November 28th, 2007

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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