Whether you like it or not, employers are checking your web presence.  They are “googling” your name, checking your LinkedIn account and depending on your privacy settings, finding out how drunk you got at the bar last Friday.
A recent article in thestar explains the rationale behind this growing trend in recruitment:

What you see on social media offers a window into what you are bringing into your office’s lunchroom. If a person is ‘out of line’ while online, you run the risk of adding that to the culture of your workplace.

Interesting data drawn from surveys cited in the article include:

  • 72% of companies have rejected a candidate based upon their online reputation
  • Top reasons for not hiring – “provocative or improper photos, posts about drinking or drug use, badmouthing previous employers, co-workers or clients, bad grammar or communications skills, discriminatory comments and lying about qualifications.”

One of the less desirable outcomes from having all of this information available to employers online is the potential for discriminatory hiring practices.
Daniel Lublin, Partner at Whitten and Lublin LLP explained in the article that legally, employers are permitted to screen applicants online – “What they can’t do is they can’t make hiring decisions based on anything that would be considered discriminatory.”  That being said, Lublin also noted the difficulty in proving discrimination occurred.
So how can you make the web work for you?  For starters, there’s a company that will carry out your damage control for a fee – Reputation.com.  But whether you pay a fee or do it yourself, it’s important to take a proactive approach and control your online presence.
A few helpful tips from the article:

  • Raise the privacy settings on your Facebook account;
  • Create your own website to highlight skills and qualifications. This can be done for as little as $15 a year; alternatively, post your resume on a LinkedIn profile;
  • Tweets show up in Google, so become a vocal leader in your field.

Overall, remember that you aren’t safe from judgment-by-internet, and absence may be just as harmful as a poorly controlled web presence.  Taking the proper steps to control your online reputation could cause you to land a job or lose a job – the choice is yours.