Have you Googled yourself lately?

What your web presence might say to your future employer

Have you Googled yourself recently? You probably should, if you’re looking for a summer job or grad job.

At least, that’s the advice of career education coordinator Susan Forseille.

“We were doing focus groups with employers last spring, and I asked them about social media and recruiting,” Forseille recalled. “One of the employers in the room reached over, turned off the tape recorder and said, ‘I can’t share this publically, but we Google everybody’s name. We look at their LinkedIn, try to get onto their Facebook account and want to know what they are tweeting.’”

As the world becomes more intertwined with social media, so are employers and recruiters, she said.

“The larger the organization, the more likely they are to look at your social media presence. Kamloops isn’t as progressive as, say, Vancouver or Calgary.”

According to Forseille, your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts are the three spots employers and recruiters are most likely to look at to find out more about you.

“When employers look at someone’s Facebook and Twitter profiles, they’re trying to get a sense of that person and who they are, what their hobbies are and what their personality is like,” she said. “A lot of people take careful attention with their LinkedIn to make sure that they look professional, but with Facebook, despite security settings being raised to the highest, employers are finding ways to get into them. Some admit it, some don’t.”

How worried should you be about your online presence? Forseille said it depends on two things: your name, and what kind of work you are looking for.

“If you have a common name, they’re not going to find much about you specifically,” she said. “If you have a more uncommon name, they’re going to be able to see quite a bit about you.”

“What’s going to compromise your reputations is really subjective. If a creative marketing agency is looking through people’s social media, they’re going to be looking for someone who’s really edgy and creative,” she said. “But a more traditional employer, like an accounting firm or the RCMP, will be more conservative in what they look for.”

Forseille said a good general rule of thumb is to avoid posting anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see. Depending on who your grandma is, this may or may not be an effective guideline.

“You still want to use the sites for what they’re intended for, you just want to keep in mind who else is seeing it and how they’re going to be forming impressions about you,” she said.

Forseille said there are a few things students can do to improve their online presence:

“Absolutely set up a LinkedIn account. It’s one of the main places employers stop to find out more about you. Some of the information you’ll want to put in your LinkedIn account includes a really good summary of what your career goals are, where you go to school, what courses you’re taking, your co-curricular and your extracurricular activities.”

She also recommended doing some quick damage control on your social media accounts, if you have not already.

“I had one student Google his name,” she recalled. “He said, ‘I have a Twitter account?’ He forgot that he had set one up, and it was from when he was younger and not being very thoughtful of what he was posting.”

“Google yourself, put brackets around your name and see what comes up. Don’t just look at the first few hits, either. Go through a couple of pages of results. Try different variations of your name, put your middle name in, and put ‘TRU’ in.”