Wealth of digital dirt hurts all potential job candidates

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According to executive recruiter Execunet, the majority of recruiters used search engines during 2007 to “uncover information about candidates.”
In fact, the number was a whopping 83.2 percent — an increase of 11.4 percent compared to the percentage of recruiters using the Internet during 2005. Recruiters are using online information to augment resumes.
Moreover, here is the real news: 43 percent said they eliminated candidates based on this “digital dirt” — before even making the first phone calls. That percentage has increased by 17 percent compared to the 2005 number (26 percent).
Execunet believes that “Proactive Online Reputation Management is as critical to executive success as a polished resumé, a strong network and a full set of leadership skills.” The company wants to ensure that digital dirt does not derail job searches for executives by giving them a blueprint for taking control of their online reputations.
In its latest report, “Dealing with your Digital Dirt v2.5,” Execunet offers a list of actions that people can take to create an online presence that supports their career goals. The three key suggestions for online reputation management are:
1) Know what’s already out there. More than three-quarters of executives report that they have done Internet searches about their own names, which means that nearly 25 percent still have no idea what digital dirt might be lurking.
2) Create a positive online presence. A Web site to showcase professional accomplishments; a blog that demonstrates consistent thought leadership; and published articles are all ways executives can positively position themselves.
3) Continually monitor their names. By establishing an automated “self-search” for their names with Google, Yahoo!, and Windows Live Alerts, executives can effortlessly discover what the press and others have said about them.
As use of the Internet increases, executives and others will have to be more vigilant to ensure that any digital dirt that is out there is either neutralized or eliminated.
Then there is the problem of our younger workers who sometimes place compromising videos or other damaging information on MySpace, FaceBook or YouTube without consideration of the consequences.
Digital dirt is an issue for all generations.
From The Herman Trend Alert, by Joyce Gioia-Herman, strategic business futurist. www.hermangroup.com