PDXSX is seeing a growing problem among young professionals and recent college grads that are hitting the application circuit, and it isn’t their lack of ability to utilize social media or comfort levels with technology. In fact, it’s the exact opposite; it’s their familiarity and high levels of coziness with social media that is costing them lucrative opportunities with employers.
In many senses, the personal brand you build and maintain online is who you actually are, at least to hiring managers and potential supervisors. We’ve previously spoken about things you ought must change before you graduate, such as clever email addresses like: P4rtyPrincez, EZCaliGirl69, RandyMoss and v3ganD3m0n.
Do yourself a quick favor right now and create just one simple email account for all of your professional correspondence. Try your first name and last name, like: JohnDoe@gmail.com. See? Simple and easy for those decision makers to remember. Take care of it today! Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
Now, ShoeSlut503@gmail.com might be easy to remember and cleverly naughty, but again, it probably won’t get you very far.*
If you have particularly common names, try adding some simple numbers like an area code or a city abbreviation like PDX in there: JohnDoePDX@gmail.com. If you want numbers, you don’t need to include Pi to the sixth digit to show us how clever your are as in: JohnDoe3.email@example.com. Arguably, if you are a post-doc applying for a McCarther Genius Grant on your seminal work with Mandelbrot Fractals and Applied Number Theory, it might be considered amusing, but for mid-level managers at a national advertising agency, it’s really irritating even if they get the circular reference.
You should consider yourself really lucky if your interviewer even knows what you mean when you reference those womp-rats that you used to bullseye back home in your T-16 aren’t much bigger than two meters.
Managing your personal brand…
Everyone should Ego Search himself or herself a few times a year to see what is coming back. Try a few permutations of your name in “quotes” which will make sure you receive the exact terms your applying. This is particularly important to defuse or eliminate any potential embarrassing situations.
According to a CareerBuilder survey of hiring managers, “…nearly half of the employers in the US now search for job candidates on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.” In addition, “[these] numbers reflect a twofold increase over those who reported doing so [researching candidates] in last year—45 percent in 2009 versus 22 percent in 2009—and cautioned that many employers choose not to hire based on information they find online.”
Consider checking out this article from Arstechnica, Job Candidates Gone Wild.
And what are most candidates disqualifying themselves for? Well, as the same survey reports: Provocative or inappropriate photographs, content related to drinking or using drugs, badmouthing previous employers, coworkers, or clients. And in this age of 733t speak, “16 percent dismissed a candidate for using text language such as GR8, BTW and pwn3d in an e-mail or job application.”
In addition, consider this issue: What if you share a name with someone but his or her “brand” leaves a lot to be desired professionally? Not all of us grow up with unique and original names; just go ask all the Jennifers and Michaels out there. What if this particular person leads, shall we say, a loose rambunctious lifestyle? What if that person who shares your name is a criminal or other pariah?
If you fall into this problem, PDXSX would argue that in the digital age you might consider a disclaimer at the bottom of your resume that says, “For your reference, I’m John Doe from Portland, Oregon, not to be confused with John Doe the prolific serial killer and glue huffer from Portland, Maine or the John Doe who starred in the recent internet meme: 2 Frat Guys/1 Cantaloupe.”
So what is the bottom line? Nothing which gets posted to the web will ever disappear so think carefully about the comments you make, the friends you associate with, the pictures you participate in, the guys you date and the drugs you choose to utilize enjoy discuss.
Google is watching…even if your parents aren’t.