• Saturday, May 26, 2007

    Protecting your online reputation on FACEBOOK and MYSPACE

    In the following article by Lauren Cooper, She alerts teens and other's who don't think of the consequences when making and posting to your Facebook and Myspace pages. This can hurt you later when you try to get a job and even worse if you decide on a career in politics. A very important read, that has lasting affects.

    Find out more about the Creator of this blog at his website Rob Tencer pr.

    Protecting Your Online Reputation on Facebook and Myspace.
    By Lauren Cooper, Indiana University Resource Center

    In the spirit of a drunken friendship, a poster shows a college student helping his friend do a beer bong. It's tacked to bulletin boards in the Indiana University Kelley School of Business among the summer sublease fliers and internship program ads, yet warrants attention more than any other. On the bottom in bold black letters, the poster asks a pointed question:

    What does your Facebook say about you?

    With many more recruiters screening potential candidates through Internet searches, career counselors are advising students to edit their online personas. Eighty-three percent of executive recruiters revealed they use search engines when making hiring decisions, according to a 2007 survey conducted by ExecuNet. Forty-three percent reported eliminating a candidate based on what they've found.

    The same goes for social networking sites like Myspace.

    "For the past few months, we have seen an exponential increase in the number of employers who are gaining access to social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, to see what they can learn about candidates there, as well," Patricia Rose, the director of Career Services at the University of Pennsylvania, cautions students through a MP3 on her office's Web site.

    Any graduate of a university can use an alumni e-mail account to gain access to that school's network. Recruiters also hire current students to do the snooping for them.

    "I have spoken to employers who are doing exactly that," Rose said.

    By getting into interview mode, doing searches of your own, putting positive information on the Web and knowing what employers don't want to see, you're boosting your odds of landing a job. Avoid getting "poked" and find out what recruiters really want to see when they click on your profile.

    When job searching, it's important that your online persona reflects the professional you want employers to know.

    "Be selective for [Facebook] categories like interests, about me and work experience," Fitch said. "Certain pictures or wall posts - all of that can be information you don't really want an employer to know."

    That doesn't just apply to Facebook; make sure all aspects of your online persona portray you as a professional.

    "Cleaning up your profile is like what we told students before the Internet: change your voicemail message if you're expecting a call from a potential employer," said Tom Fitch, the director of Career Services at the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. "You just have to be in that mindset during the interview process."


    Putting prospective job candidates' names into a search engine is commonplace.

    "Beat them to the punch by Googling yourself," Rose said.

    If you find incriminating information, look into having it taken down from the site.

    "At the very least though, you should be aware of what the Internet reveals of your past and be ready to address it should it come up," Rose said.

    Now that you know recruiters surf cyberspace to learn more about you, take control of your online reputation. Buy a domain name that most closely matches your full name, said Robyn Greenspan, a senior editor at ExecuNet. A personal Web site that will come up easily in a search is a great place to list community service, awards for leadership or writing and other things you're proud of that might not go on a resume. Greenspan followed her own advice and purchased one for her 18-year-old nephew last week.

    "When a recruiter Googles [your name], they see that you've demonstrated initiative and that you're proactive about managing your online reputation," Greenspan said. "If 43 percent of applicants are being eliminated for negative information, imagine when they Google you and find positive information. That will increase your chances exponentially."

    In fact, 70 percent of recruiters said finding positive information on the Web would increase an applicant's chances of getting the job, according to the ExecuNet survey.

    So rather than setting your privacy controls to the hilt , erasing every mention of your name on the Web and untagging every photo, make the search results work in your favor.

    Your profile can even be like a resume, Fitch said.

    LaToya Evans, a junior studying journalism at the University of North Carolina, keeps her Facebook profile open to everyone in her network and lists past internships with magazines such as "Glamour" and "Vogue."

    She also posts personal information, like involvement with her sorority, that she loves the book, "The Devil Wears Prada" and even a confession of obsession with stiletto heels.

    "It's nice to keep things on your profile that make people understand you're not a workaholic," she said.

    Employers are looking for well-rounded applicants. Social networking sites are also good places to list clubs and activities you're involved in and link to work you've done.

    Andrea Zimmerman, a junior at Drake University, included a link on her Facebook account to her college's online magazine, which she edits.

    "The Web is an opportunity to showcase what might make you the better fit within a company's culture," said Mark Brostoff, an associate director of the Undergraduate Career Services office at the IU Kelley School of Business.

    Posting photos of your community service, work with a dance marathon or Greek life activities show involvement and enterprise, Brostoff said. Social sites can also show your networking capabilities.

    Yet, there are some things that are better left unsaid. When it comes to sharing religious and political views, Brostoff advises keeping it to a minimum.

    "You wouldn't talk religion or politics at an interview or cocktail party," he said.

    If you like to blog, especially on controversial topics, or just to blow off steam, don't use your full name, Greenspan said. It's best to use only your first name or a nickname.

    "Create distance between your personal persona that may not be completely professional and your professional persona," Greenspan said. "Don't connect anything to your name that you don't want to end up on the cover of a newspaper."

    Sites like archive.org already log information as far back as 15 years ago, she said. Your online persona will come back to haunt you, Rose warns.

    The Kelley School of Business, which made Business Week's top 20 undergraduate business programs, warns its students that everything on the Web is public.

    "Anyone could easily cut and paste a photo or your profile and e-mail it," Brostoff said. "It's never private or confidential."

    But remember that if you want to post information that you're proud of yet think it's something an employer might not like, you may need to consider if that's the company for you, Fitch said.

    "If you have listed on your MySpace that you're a liberal Democrat and involved in certain organizations, a company like Halliburton might decide that person isn't a good fit," Greenspan said. You might decide the same thing.

    Know that recruiters are looking for sincere candidates.

    "Recruiters have reported finding everything from misstated facts on a resume to criminal records to hobbies such as, ‘I like to drink,'" Greenspan said. "Due to increasing scrutiny on companies, they're looking for honesty and integrity."

    Students, like Zimmerman, are skeptical about being checked on, but said, "I guess it's better to be safe than sorry."

    For more advice on clearing your cyber reputation, you can listen to Rose's full MP3 at www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices.

    Find out more about the Creator of this blog at his website Rob Tencer pr.

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