Is your Digital Dirt costing you a job?


There have been several news reports indicating that HR Professionals and Recruiters are now checking you out on Facebook as much or more than on LinkedIn. How come? Because they get your professional profile from LinkedIn, but Facebook gives them insight into your character off the job—it helps them gauge whether you will fit into their culture.

There has been considerable coverage indicating that during an interview jobseekers may be asked to give away their Facebook password. After consulting numerous HR groups and discussions, it has become clear that this in NOT common practice and most HR professionals not only frowned on the idea; many of them suggested that jobseekers look for a better company.

HR Professionals do look at your online profile and may conduct an Internet search on your name. So it’s important to manage your online image. “Blemishes” that come up during Internet searches are called Digital Dirt.

Perhaps your Facebook profile is only visible to select friends and you think your online image is clean. Maybe; maybe not! Suppose someone has tagged you in a photo. And the photo can be traced back to a frat party, or a casino. Like it or not, that puts certain negative overtones on your job application.

Do you have a common name? Even if someone that shares your name has some Digital Dirt, it can be YOUR problem. Using your middle initial may help distinguish you from someone with a similar name. People have been forced to use their middle name during a job search to avoid this kind of confusion.

Businesses and companies often have designated community managers who are responsible for the company’s image and brand through social media. Jobseekers should be just as diligent. Have you followed a company’s Twitter feed? Are they following you? If so, what will they find? Who are you following – anything there that might create a negative image? What about Facebook? Have you “friended” any businesses where you would like to work? Are you a member of an Alumni Association Group on ANY social media platform? All of these leave you open to Digital Dirt.

Digital Dirt is inescapable. Therefore, it is essential that you monitor and manage it. 

You ask, “What do I do if I find something?”

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Online Search:
      • Check any public forums and ensure there are no derogatory pictures or verbiage that pertains to you.
      • Conduct an Internet search of yourself and use alternate spellings of your name.
      • Contact owners of sites and request that your name and images be removed.
      • Facebook: Don Crowther shows you how to untag yourself from a FB photo.


  2. Credit Cleanup:
      • Check your credit and if there are blemishes on your report, contact the appropriate company and take care of it.
      • Ask the company to remove negative credit references.
      • An Internet search on “Improve my credit score” or “Repair bad credit” will also bring up options. (Always vet out a company before you engage with them.)


  3. Professional Branding:
    • Make sure your email address is professional without any designations other than your name. ( won’t win extra points.)
    • Remember that you are not just looking for Digital Dirt about yourself, but any Digital Dirt associated with your name—even if it belongs to someone else.
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