Recently I’ve been wondering how much law firms actually research their prospective employees online. An episode of How I Met Your Mother actually made me think about it when one of the characters had an embarrassing clip of them appear quite high in the search results. Watch the video for laughs.
If I was in charge of employment for a firm, I’d probably do quite a bit of Googling. It can tell you so much about a person. Probably some very positive things and some very negative things. For example, I like to think that if I was researching somebody who blogs on this site, it would reflect very positively on them. On the other hand you could find some incriminating pictures or forum posts.
Don’t think you’re safe by not using your name or using an alias either. I read about a situation on a forum in which a trainee got his training contract taken away. He was complaining / bitching about the firm he was going to take his TC at. He used an alias, but the firm were able to figure out exactly who it was making those comments. Just think; every single forum post gives away more information about who you are. The firm knew the individual had a training contract but he hadn’t started it yet. Then they found out his gender. This already could have given them for a good idea about who was making the comments. As you can imagine it didn’t take long for them to figure out who exactly it was. They eventually did find out and took away his training contract.
This is an extreme example. My point is, even if you make your digital footprint as anonymous as possible, there’s still a risk of being found out. But you should do all you can to minimise it.
As I said, I’d probably look at potential candidates online if I was running a firm. The more information you have to make a decision the better. Yet at the same time I think it’s very very sad. It’s sad that the best candidate is essentially a corporate drone who never does anything out of the ordinary or impulsive.
Unfortunately you’ve got to play the game. But it is possible to remove some of the stuff online. Is it hiding who you really are? Yes. But if you’re going to get stalked by a prospective employer, then it’s the logical thing to do. First of all set all your social media profiles to private. This means only friends can look at your pictures and view your messages. Secondly Google your name. If you’ve got a very common name, it may be hard to find yourself. So type in your name along with more information like your university and where you live etc. These extra details will narrow it down. Once you find the relevant results all you need to do is go through them and see which ones might not be seen favourably by a potential firm. If you can remove some of these yourself then great – go ahead and do that. To delete some other things you may need to contact the site owner directly and request a take down.
What if this isn’t possible? What if you have a really bad reputation online!? Hopefully no one is at this stage, but if you are there is something you can do. You can create a website which is like an online CV. This will hopefully be at the top of the search results when your name is Googled. This therefore pushes the other search results further down. Still not enough? Why don’t you put up a video on youtube – kind of like a video CV. Even if the bad results are still visible, these pages should at least offset the damage.