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Do Employers Google You?

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by Ben Wheeler

about 1 month ago

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Google. It's a wonderful tool that most of us use every day. Need to find out the best restaurant? Google has got it. Need a medical self-diagnosis? Google will tell you the worst possible ailment. What about a quick Google check when an employer is recruiting? Yep, that's right, it happens.

You might be wondering why someone would be 'googling' you. Isn't it an invasion of privacy? What has it got to do with your job search?

Mark Curran, a Partner at Kaden Boriss Legal, suggests that Privacy in Australia is more complicated than you might think. Although the Privacy Act 1988 governs how certain enterprises manage certain kinds of information that they hold about you, those rules aren’t exhaustive, and they don’t cover certain kinds of information that is otherwise publicly available. In Privacy Commissioner v Telstra Corporation Limited [2017] FCAFC 4, the Federal Court in early 2017, gave a narrow construction to “personal information about an individual”, the kind of information that is protected by the Act.  Most major social media platforms contain default privacy settings which don’t preserve the privacy of your communications, and don’t take proactive steps to preserve your privacy in respect of information that you upload. There shouldn’t be an expectation of privacy with anything you make available online. 

The reality check here is, your potential employer or boss may or may not 'google' you themselves, but you can be almost certain that the moment your new colleagues receive word of your name, then it will be  entered into that search engine. This is even more likely if you are coming into a management position, your direct reports will want to know as much as they can about you, before you set foot in the door. Once it is announced that a senior hire is taking place, comments are bound to start flying shortly after, as people are already, unfortunately, judging you.  It may not be fair but it does happen, and it would be rather naive not to consider this.

LinkedIn. Does your LinkedIn profile match your CV? Are there any discrepancies between the titles or dates? There are many legitimate cases where your title could be different. For example you may have been promoted and did not update LinkedIn but obviously changed your CV.

For other forms of social media, these are the sites where most of the drama occurs, particularly relating to photos. Just use common sense. Chat rooms and forums are also a bit of a concern where your forthright comments could possibly offend half of the world, from that forum in which you participated 7 years ago, were you aware of that?

We've heard it before and we'll say it again - whatever you put on the web, stays there. No matter if you delete the photo or delete that controversial comment, it is guaranteed to be on the Internet somewhere. Nothing is private on the Internet, even if your privacy settings say it is - remember that. However, chances are that your potential employers aren't going to go to the depths of tracing your every move on the Internet since 2010. A Google check will probably be very basic. So while we aren't condoning the posting of inappropriate photos or comments at all, it is probably a good idea to keep your personal life on the internet at a lower visibility. Here's how to do it.

Facebook. Turn it to private. This makes sense even if you aren't trying to avoid being found on Google. Edit your settings so your basic information and profile picture are the only items seen by strangers. Do you have any regrettable photos on your Facebook page? Party photos with copious amounts of alcohol or ones where you just aren't in a good state? Delete them.

Instagram. Make your profile only available to those who follow you. Turn on the privacy settings so people have to request to follow you in order to see your feed. If you choose to make your profile public, watch what you #hashtag. Certain tags could land you into a lot of trouble and potentially lose you the job.

Blogs. Are you a blog writer? Fantastic! Do you write controversial blogs that could perhaps jeopardise the outcome of your job applications? It's something to keep in mind when your name is publicly attached to the article.

It is important to remember that having a profile on the web is becoming more and more important to the job seeker, so please don’t delete yourselves!  Just don't let a dodgy photo or comment ruin the chances of a fantastic job opportunity. Be vigilant in what you are tagged in and what you post - your career could be counting on it.  

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