Derailed by Digital Dirt

This one is probably worth sharing with our middle and high school students who chain themselves to social networking sites during their recreational hours—

What to expect at work in 2008 – Jan. 3, 2008 – Ask Annie

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to find a new job, now is the time to buff up your online image. A new poll of hiring managers and recruiters, by executive career network ExecuNet (, says that job seekers’ “online image management will make or break more job searches” in 2008 than ever.Right now, 83% of hiring managers and headhunters say they use search engines to check out a candidate before contacting him or her. Here’s the ominous part: 43% have eliminated a job prospect based on something that popped up online – up from just 26% who had done so in 2005.

“Digital dirt will derail an even greater number of job searches in 2008,” ExecuNet predicts.

How can you make sure your online reputation is everything you want it to be? The ExecuNet study offers three tips. First, be alert: Enter your name into several search engines each month to keep track of exactly what’s out there.

Then, be proactive. The survey recommends “purchasing a domain name to display your resume, any press mentions, and professional accomplishments,” including trade-journal articles, speeches, and information about volunteer work or other noteworthy deeds.

And third, be prepared. If an online search turns up anything that might be problematic – a lawsuit against a former employer, for instance – the study suggests that you “expect it will be uncovered before the interview process begins” and come up with a succinct, positive way to tell your side of the story.

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