Digital dirt refers to your online presence; what’s on your Facebook page, your LinkedIn profile, your Twitter Feeds, your My Space page etc. Thinking about your own online presence, would it help or hinder your ability to get a job or move ahead in your career?
So imagine yourself going in for an interview, and you’re looking your best. You’ve taken great care to wear nice clean clothes, polish up the shoes, your personal hygiene and grooming are beyond reproach. Why you’re even on time and prepared with your firm handshake, great smile and direct eye contact. As you walk in and sit down, you’re feeling pretty confident about your chances because you know your resume got you this far so your experience and qualifications must have you in the running for the job. All you really need to do is not make any critical mistakes over the next 30 – 60 minutes or less. With me so far?
So as you’re sitting there feeling pretty good about things, the interviewer pulls up one of your personal profiles from off the web. “They can’t do that! That’ not right!” you are perhaps thinking right now as you read this. And why not? The internet is for EVERYBODY, not just you and your friends.
All of a sudden, you might be having serious trepidation and anxiety about exactly what they are looking at behind that screen. They might even turn it so you can look at it as well.
What was hilarious at 2 a.m. on a Thursday morning in front of your best mates is suddenly less than something to be proud of in the cold light of day sitting in a job interview between you and this stranger who has control of whether or not you get this job you want.
One of the things this interviewer is trying to do is to get to know the real you. After all, that’s why they ask the questions they do, such as, “Tell me about yourself.” But every interviewer assumes you are taking great pains to carefully put yourself together as professionally as you can specifically because you and them know you are being sized up. So looking at your on-line or digital presence is a way for them to either confirm the person in front of them is consistent with their behaviour outside the company, or possible at odds with the person sitting in front of them right now.
Whenever I’m talking about this with young people in particular, all kinds of objections are made. Some say that employers shouldn’t be able to see the stuff in the first place. Others will say what they do on their free time outside of work should have nothing to do with their work life. Sorry but those arguments don’t hold up in the real world.
You see if you’ve posted pictures of yourself surrounded by alcohol, semi-clothed, doing drugs or even illegal activities and then throw in the fact that all this went down at 2 a.m. on a Thursday morning, the interviewer can’t help but react to that. First of all how effective would you be coming in to work at 8:00 a.m. that day? How would the reputation of the company be affected if you were hired and customers started to associate this new employee with the guy they see possibly after hours behaving like that? It might be too risky to take a chance on; YOU might be too risky to take a chance on.
Ever noticed how much employers value honesty? You yourself, don’t you value honesty in others when you are dealing with them? Sure you do. We all do. Honesty and being genuine are tied together. If you are genuine, then the person sitting in front of an interviewer will be pretty much like the person on the internet. On the other hand, if the person on the web is greatly different from the person at the interview, the opposites arise…dishonest, less than genuine.
Suppose you wanted to be an elementary school teacher. The school board official is considering putting you in front of and responsible for 24 young impressionable children. While the resume is great, your credentials are unquestioned, there is this video of you in a drinking contest, stumbling around and passing out in your own pile of vomit. It’s totally hilarious to the 15 other people in the video yelling, “Chug! Chug! Chug!” Think you’ll get the job?
Here’s something you may not know. Companies often take the people they are short-listing for interviews and put some of their staff on a digital hunt to see what they uncover. Maybe you’re pretty savvy and you don’t use your real name on your profiles. Could be they access the pages of other people you know and check their photos out to see if you are tagged in them. Then whatever name you use there is searched and you are suddenly revealed.
If you don’t want your potential employer to see something damaging, delete it. Clean up your digital dirt so it doesn’t keep you from promotions, advancing or getting hired in the first place. It’s a simple choice really, you can clean it up now and not worry, or you can hope and pray you are smarter than the people trying to find you and that nothing will ever be found.
Have a look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJfw3xt4emY