The Importance of Cleaning Up Your Online Image

Recently, I was hired by the parents of Michael, a recent college graduate who had been struggling in his job search. He had applied for nearly one hundred jobs and could not win an interview.your online brand is important Typically, when I hear this I suspect that the job seeker’s resume is not compatible with Applicant Tracking Systems. But, I checked his resume and found that it did not contain any non-compatible formatting elements and did include all the necessary keywords for the position. Despite graduating from a big name school with an impressive GPA, Michael could not land a job or even an interview.

During our first meeting, we discussed his job search tactics so I could identify what was and was not working. He shared a recent experience a recruiter that he just could not understand. Michael had completed a telephone interview that he felt went well and the recruiter told him she was going to forward his resume onto the hiring manager. When he received a telephone call 10 minutes later, he thought it was a good sign! Unfortunately, the recruiter had bad news for Michael, but it ended up being a very educational experience.

Apparently, before forwarding his resume onto the hiring manager the recruiter had looked Michael up online and reviewed his social media activity. What she saw on Facebook and Twitter immediately removed him from the running. There were pictures of Michael drinking heavily and he had posted and tweeted all sorts of vulgar and inappropriate material. This was not the type of person the company wanted to bring on board. When this type of information is discovered, most employers simply write off the candidate and move on to the next resume in the pile. While it was difficult to hear and made him quite angry, Michael was very lucky that the recruiter shared this information.

When considering a candidate for a position, most employers will research them online and review their social media profiles. They want to make sure the person is who they represent themself to be and will fit in with their corporate culture. If the employer does not like what they see online, the job seeker may be eliminated from consideration. While many millennials I speak with think this is unfair — it is a reality they need to deal with. Our online image is important to employers. Risky behavior and questionable choices made in one’s personal life can carry over to their professional life. College students and new grads need to show employers that they have matured from “college kid” into a “young professional”.

While today’s college students are well versed in technology, they must use social media responsibly to earn the respect of hiring managers. Whether intentional or not, we each have an online reputation built by the information we share online. To facilitate their job search, job seekers need to clean up their online activity, remove any negative information and intentionally populate the Internet with information they want hiring managers to see. LinkedIn is the best way to do this. Managing your online reputation is important — it can either help or hurt your job search efforts. This story has a happy ending. Michael and I worked together for a few weeks and greatly improved his job search efforts and results. He cleaned up his online profiles and changed his privacy settings so that no one else could post on his wall or tag him in photos on Facebook. We then built a strong LinkedIn profile to attract the 130K+ recruiters who source candidates directly on LinkedIn. Michael is now working at a great job as a financial analyst that he loves.

For help cleaning up your online image, email me at

Trish Thomas founded The Resume Resource in 2009 to help people develop the tools, strategies and confidence to build satisfying careers. As a Career Coach and Resume Writer, she helps her clients articulate their unique value to stand out from the competition, and guides them through the job search process to make it less overwhelming and more successful. Contact us to see how we can help you build a more rewarding career.

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