Is it just me, or in decades past, did the job market seem a lot more tolerant of mistakes? There was a time when most professionals could afford to have a blemish or two on their record, at least when the infraction fell somewhat short of a felony, and these issues wouldn’t end up penalizing the candidate unduly and repeatedly in the interview process. Everybody seemed a lot more entitled to a second chance, not all that long ago, and employers wouldn’t (or perhaps simply couldn’t) go to nearly as much trouble as they can now to ensure a person’s background is squeaky-clean before making an offer.
Today, however, the landscape has changed dramatically and savvy professionals need to monitor their “digital legacy” on a regular basis to ensure that they don’t have any background information on the Internet that could severely limit their employability. Any questionable item such as a bankruptcy or a professional censure or an employment-related court case (or ANY court case, for that matter) will likely be turned up these days through a cursory Internet search, creating enough doubt in the interviewer’s mind to cause them to pass on you as a prospective hire, even if all of your skills and qualifications appear to be an excellent fit for the job! So as a first step, you should Google yourself and see just what information an employer might uncover about you in cyberspace. And secondly, should you find some material that might be perceived negatively, or even raise an eyebrow, you should think hard about how you’ll respond to it if and when the employer should surface the issue in question with you.
The Internet isn’t the only potential source of “bad press” you should keep in mind, however, since we’ve also encountered instances where an individual’s references were not speaking positively or were damning the person with faint praise — leading to employer hesitation — or where a professional’s alma mater had their files incorrect, and said a person hadn’t finished their degree, when they had! So long story short, if you’re fortunate enough to NOT have a single thing in your past that might lead to employer hesitation, you’re probably in the clear. But if there has been an issue in years past that might reflect badly on your record, fairly or unfairly, you should carefully think through how you can neutralize or minimize this objection to your candidacy should it come up — and you might even consider engaging services such as MyReferences or ReputationDefender to try and polish up your historical record before the issue even surfaces.
These days, transparency in hiring is a fact of life we’ll all have to embrace. Employers have a huge new battery of tools available to do their homework on any prospective hire, so we’ve all got to be just a little more diligent about our on-line reputations — and make sure we monitor our Internet reputation just as carefully as we do our credit record — in order to maintain peak marketability!