Your online persona could stop you from getting your next job

Written by Jonathon on March 13, 2020

Employer holding a tablet with three candidates’ profiles being screened to find the ideal candidate

We’ve all heard rumours and horror stories about people being rejected for jobs due to their online personas and activity. But is it actually true? Or are these just digital urban myths? We did some research and the answer is emphatically yes.

Here’s a look into the world of recruiting: what they look for, common mistakes, and some easy steps you can take to prevent it happening to your online self.

The very first thing a lot of recruiters will do is simply google your name. The results depend on how active you are digitally, but some common search results are your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles. Other results may include media mentions, GitHub repositories, phone book listings and photos. Red flags at this stage can include mentions of illegal activity, anti-social behaviour, associations with unsavoury groups or simply inconsistencies between your job application and publicly available information.

Taking this a step further, there are now sophisticated tech companies providing services to scan the content of publicly available information about you to screen for problematic behaviour. If this sounds surprising to you, check them out for yourself. Fama, Crystal and Social Intelligence all run scans of your online persona to look for red flags, determine more about your personality, behaviours, and if you’re likely to be a good fit in your next job. The number of companies using theses services is growing too...

Digging deeper, recruiters may then use background checking services to investigate things like education, employment, criminal and financial history. Companies like Checkr, Digital Insight, BeenVerified and Truthfinder scan the internet and private databases to build a profile about you that employers can use to screen you against a job.

There have been some unfortunate examples recently of people having their online personas getting in the way of finding a job. An Austin job applicant applied for a role at a marketing agency, only to find the company had used an Instagram post of hers to castigate applicants for having a public profile. Amazon is currently going through a litigation process after firing an employee who refused to scan applicants’ social media profiles to determine race and gender information. There are also several examples listed here in this article where social media was a determining factor in candidates not getting a job.

We believe everyone should be able to have control of the information they share online and with who. Whilst we don’t agree with some of the tactics employed by companies when vetting job candidates, it is becoming more pervasive and we must be proactive in managing our online personas to reflect our best image. Here are four things you can do right now to secure your online persona and put your best digital foot forward:

  1. Google yourself and see what comes up. If you don’t like some of the results, identify the source and see if you can restrict access or remove it.
  2. Make your social media profiles private.
  3. Create a LinkedIn account and/or update your existing one to clearly highlight your professional history.
  4. Clean up your old tweets, Facebook posts and photos. Our online tools can help you identify the ones that might be professionally damaging and help you to bulk delete old tweets.

We always recommend making your social media profiles private so whilst a recruiter can see you are active socially, they are unable to see your content. Sometimes a lack of social media accounts can work against you, as the recruiter may wonder what you’re trying to hide.

If you want to take your online privacy to the next level, sign up to yourself.online and get access to our extensive social media clean up tools, privacy settings walkthroughs and password breach monitoring. yourself.online puts you back in control of your online persona so you control what people see about you.