Online Communication and Your Job

Why Wilson Phillips Got in Bed with Perez Hilton

On a recent chapter of their reality show, Wilson Phillips was talking passionately about their comeback. They said one of the big issues was getting enough visibility. So that day they were being interviewed by Perez Hilton – in bed. Of course, the bedroom was perfectly appointed, everyone was looking their business casual best and even Chynna's spouse, Billy Baldwin, stopped by for a little camera time. Carnie Wilson explained why. When they were at their peak, in the old days of marketing, it would have taken a lot of money and a long time to get the kind of exposure they needed. In these social media days, they could accomplish the same thing by spending an hour in bed with Perez Hilton.

It made me laugh because it was weird and funny and, at the same time, true. Everyone can find you online. And that can be good or bad. Either way, if you are job hunting, you need to pay attention to what you are saying and the kind of impression you are leaving online.  I’m not talking about not posting incriminating pics of yourself because I'm presuming you're old enough to know better. But polishing up your online persona is important because a prospective employer will look for and pay attention to that persona and, like it or not, it will become part of the decision process.

From time to time I help someone with their hiring decisions, or hire for myself, and I always start my research by googling the person’s name. I can learn a lot even from the little things – like no presence makes me wonder about how much they know about the current technology and trends, drinking and partying pictures are an automatic “no” and one candidate’s wallpaper had violent themes. But the icing on the cake was the candidate who told the social network that the goal was to work at a company to ratchet up expertise (“geek the technique”) and, in a year, start a new business overseas. It costs a company a lot of money to train someone, and when they do, the company wants to think they’ll stay for a while. That candidate didn’t even get an interview.

What should you do if you are job-hunting?

  • Make sure your profile page has a good, strong description of who you are - not the downtime you, but the workplace you.
  • Remove anything that you wouldn't want a prospective employer to see.
  • Make sure you have good privacy settings so that a prospective employer can see some of your information, but not the kind that you only want to share with your family and friends. Here’re the basics: http://www.facebook.com/help/privacy/basic-controls.
  • Add items, like articles or news clips, that highlight your expertise.
  • Google your name and go through all the pages. The first time I did it, I found someone had set up a yahoo dominatrix group using Victorious Woman AND my professional bio. Set up a google alert on your name and, if you have one, your company: http://www.google.com/alerts. Google will send you alerts whenever you name comes up and you can keep track what’s going on in the online world.