March 28, 2007 6:06 AM PDT

Want a job? Clean up your Web act

Employers are increasingly checking out online personal information about candidates when making recruitment decisions.

Net reputations built up through online activities--such as blogging, posting videos to YouTube, or using social networks such as Facebook and have a significant effect when applying for a job, according to a report from business social network Viadeo.

According to the research, released Wednesday, one in five employers finds information about candidates on the Internet, and 59 percent of those said it influences recruitment decisions.

A fourth of human resources decision makers said they had rejected candidates based on personal information found online. Most people, however, remain unaware of the effect their Net reputation can have on their job prospects.

Examples of online information that has been shown to create negative information include MySpace pages that reveal excessive drinking or disrespect for work.

One survey respondent said his company rejected a candidate based on activities found online that "did not fit ethically" into the organization.

But information found online can also work positively when applying for a job, with 13 percent of HR decision makers having decided to recruit people in light of what they found.

Positive information could include achievements not already known, Internet skills demonstrated through a Web site and extra skills not revealed by a corporate application form.

Peter Cunningham, a U.K.-based Viadeo manager, said the results should be a wake-up call to anyone who has ever posted personal information online.

"The rise of search engines such as Google means that potential employers are never more than a few clicks away from information about you," he added in a statement.

The research surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and more than 600 employers via an online interview.

Tim Ferguson of reported from London.

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no problem
If a company doesn't want to accept you for who you are, you probably wouldn't want to work there anyway. The moral of the story: set your Facebook and Myspace profiles to private, or if you have an "edgy" public blog, use a pseudonymn. My name isn't really "alucinor" after all! :)
Posted by alucinor (71 comments )
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Could be a Plus
If you work it right, and you are a competent writer, it should be a plus. Also, many people don't want a traditional "job".
Posted by digitanomad (14 comments )
Link Flag
Here's the problem - when employer's start using info you may freely give out online - sexual orientation or interests - to deny employment to people. As far as excessive drinking, etc. that's almost kind of understandable, as it may reflect on the employee's ability to consistantly show up to work or be responsible. But it's the other stuff I'm worried about...
Posted by DraconumPB (229 comments )
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It's actually helping you...
I'm not saying it's right in the first place, but if an employer is going to discriminate it's better for you if they deny your application rather than you learn about the hostile company culture after you accept a position.
Posted by ComposMentis (21 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Problem:
No matter how you slice it, it's wrong.

Not only is it an invasion of privacy, but it's a violation of your freedom of speech. Why would you ever expect somebody who's unethical enough to do something like this, to use the information properly (i.e. - you drink too much so you might be late to work)?

Why is it an employer is not allowed to legally ask you questions regarding religion, sexual preference, and a myriad of other things on an application but they can go look it up?

Are they sure they have the same person?

How long are they allowed to hold it against you? Can they hold it against your children and other relatives, as well?

There's no excuse. No corporation has the right to dictate free speech.
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
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Another positive is ...
You can establish your online identity. You can build good reputation. You can show the future potential employer that you know your stuff, that you are an expert in your area. Anyone who brags about how much they drink on their myspace page has issues and needs help.
Posted by jazyfko (5 comments )
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Re: Another positive is...
And that "good" identity can be destroyed at any person's whim.

There are NO positives...
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
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12% said they are influenced
"According to the research, released Wednesday, one in five employers finds information about candidates on the Internet, and 59 percent of those said it influences recruitment decisions."

So, um, 60% of the one-in-five say it influences recruitment decisions. So that's about 12% of surveyed employers. Not quite so many as the article implies.
Posted by freewheel (6 comments )
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Sounds like just another form of DISCRIMINATION to me...nuff said
Posted by btljooz (401 comments )
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The trouble with this
What if I didn't like a person, and didn't want them to get/keep said job. I could log into a forum (say, CNet), slag them in public with any lie I wanted, and wait for the recruiter to find it.
Business culture has become so anal that people are being fired on rumor (over facts).
Posted by Marcus Westrup (630 comments )
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Re: The trouble with this
You're 100% correct, Marcus.

What makes it even worse is that on some elements of the Internet, you can post using whoever's name you want.

So that's what employers are going to use, eh?
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
Teaching Integrity to Today's Youth
As a high school teacher, I am reminded daily that teens struggle with consequences; many believe they can avoid them. I have to say that I am happy employers are calling online youth to the mat and forcing them to accept the consequences for their behavior. A behavior, by the way, that is rooted in identity play. Representing one's self as something other than who one truly is exemplifies dishonesty. Either you are the drunken, scantily clad college student you purport to be on your Facebook page or you aren't. But, if I were an employer, I would be repulsed by both your lack of integrity for having a double identity or by your lack of good judgment.
Posted by Dulkrazu (4 comments )
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What if your name matches other famous people?
Just like the character Michael Bolton on Office Space, I have a name that when googled reflects two other famous people. How does some HR person know if what they see reflected on the internet is the person applying for the job. I think it is crazy to rely on googling for a determination and not solid interviewing skills. Anyone can get divorced, become a drunk, loose their fortunes while still managing their job. Winston Churchill sometimes started the morning with a glass of Scotch and soda in bed, and he drank continuously throughout the day ... he still was a great figure in modern history.
Catherine, the redhead
Posted by rapieress (5 comments )
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