Want a job? Clean up your Web act

Uncouth blogs and social-networking bloopers can hurt your employability, a survey of more than 600 employers finds.
Written by Tim Ferguson, Contributor
Employers are increasingly checking out online personal information about candidates when making recruitment decisions.

Net reputations built up through online activities--such as blogging, posting videos to YouTube, or using social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.com--can have a significant effect when applying for a job, according to a report from business social network Viadeo.

According to the research, released Wednesday, one in five employers finds information about candidates on the Internet, and 59 percent of those said it influences recruitment decisions.

A fourth of human resources decision makers said they had rejected candidates based on personal information found online. Most people, however, remain unaware of the effect their Net reputation can have on their job prospects.

Examples of online information that has been shown to create negative information include MySpace pages that reveal excessive drinking or disrespect for work.

One survey respondent said his company rejected a candidate based on activities found online that "did not fit ethically" into the organization.

But information found online can also work positively when applying for a job, with 13 percent of HR decision makers having decided to recruit people in light of what they found.

Positive information could include achievements not already known, Internet skills demonstrated through a Web site and extra skills not revealed by a corporate application form.

Peter Cunningham, a U.K.-based Viadeo manager, said the results should be a wake-up call to anyone who has ever posted personal information online.

"The rise of search engines such as Google means that potential employers are never more than a few clicks away from information about you," he added in a statement.

The research surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and more than 600 employers via an online interview.

Tim Ferguson of Silicon.com reported from London.

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