5 Steps to Clean up Your Digital “Dirt”

By Cheryl Palmer

According to Forbes magazine, the majority of employers now conduct Web searches on potential employees and view their social media profiles to screen them for employment. Whether you are actively or passively job searching, you need to know what employers will see when they search for you.

How to Dig up Digital “Dirt”
The following are some tips for finding out if you have any digital “dirt” that would disqualify you from a new position.

Search For Your Name to See What Comes Up
Even if you have not personally put up any information on the Internet about yourself, it’s still possible that there is information about you on the Web. For one thing, your current employer may have listed information about you as an employee. Don’t take anything for granted. Use multiple Internet search engines such as Google (www.google.com) or Bing (www.bing.com) to find out what the Internet says about you.

Check ZoomInfo to see if you are Listed There and Whether the Information is Accurate 
Some employers check ZoomInfo (www.zoominfo.com) for information about candidates. You can take charge of your profile if you are listed on this site by claiming your name. If you are not on this site, you may want to create a profile of your own to make a positive impression on anyone searching for your name.

View Your Social Media Profiles with an Objective Eye
If you didn’t know you, would you hire you based on what you see on your social media page(s)? With an average of more than four job seekers competing for every job, employers are looking for ways to narrow down the field. Don’t give them a reason to weed you out. Examine your social media profiles for anything that could be perceived as negative.

Look for What Others May Have Posted About You
If you are inclined to pat yourself on the back because you know that you haven’t posted anything negative, don’t be too smug. There is always the possibility that someone else has posted something negative about you. It could be an unflattering photo where you are tagged, or it could even be that one of your friends on Facebook posted a comment laced with profanity. Some employers will check to see what your friends have posted and make a determination about you accordingly.

Review Your Comments Online
You might not give it much thought, but whenever you make a comment on sites such as Amazon.com or general news sites, you generally have to log in through Facebook. That means whatever you say can be traced back to you. Check to see if you have made any comments that could be perceived as negative or otherwise derogatory.

Cleaning Up Your Digital “Dirt”
The following are some suggestions of actions you can take if you do happen to find digital “dirt,” but are unable to remove or delete it.

Drown It
Most people do not go back further than the second or third page of results on an Internet search engine. If you have digital “dirt” that you don’t want everyone to know about, add positive information to the Internet so that the positive results come up first. By creating social media profiles on many different sites and perhaps starting a blog and/or website, you can point employers to what you want them to know about you.

Curate Your Search Results and Post Them Publicly
Vizibility (www.vizibility.com) is a company that gives its customers the ability to choose Google results that they want employers to see. Once you sign up, you can select search results based on your name and then you will receive a button as well as a QR code that you can add to your LinkedIn profile, blog, and/or website. Curating your Google results is also useful because your results can easily be mixed in with other people who share your name. Your curated results will only apply to you.

Make Your Social Media Profiles Sparkle
All of your social media profiles should represent you well, but you should pay special attention to LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) since it is the site that most recruiters use to source executive and professional candidates. LinkedIn has a number of applications that can give you an edge as a job seeker. Here are a few that are general enough to apply to most job hunters: 

By incorporating multimedia into your profile, you will set yourself apart from similarly qualified job applicants and impress employers.


About the Author
Cheryl Palmer is a career expert, professional speaker, and the president of Call to Career. Learn more about her at www.linkedin.com/in/cherylpalmer. She can be contacted at Cheryl.Palmer@calltocareer.com, or by visiting www.calltocareer.com. Her blog is available at www.calltocareer.com/category/blog. To receive the free report titled, “Top 10 Mistakes that Executives Make,” visit her website at www.calltocareer.com

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