Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with several foreign nationals who are writing their first America resume. “You don’t want to put a picture on your resume,” I start by saying. “Leave off your date of birth, too. Also whether you are married or not.” I’m so used to American resumes—and not the ways of European CVs–always surprised when the client says, “Really?
On the books, U.S. Employment law says it is illegal to ask for applicant pictures, marital status, and that any information on ethnicity and personal information must be carefully worded in order to comply with laws. But these days, it is an entirely different story online—as users of social networks are encouraged to share everything from birthdays to personal photos. And ExecuNet reveals that 90 out of 100 executive recruiters do conduct internet research on candidates prior to hiring. (Like it or not, the Google Search happens!)
How much is too much information to share about yourself? How do I monitor pictures of myself? What information should I share? And what should I leave off?
All of these are important job search questions today, especially as online presence becomes just as important as the resume. Don’t ignore them—how and where employers find you online can make or break your candidacy for a job.
In the book I recently co-wrote, the Twitter Job Search Guide, I provide my take on how to answer this question: I call it “discretionary authenticity” or the process of revealing enough about yourself to put yourself in a favorable light without sharing information that isn’t anyone else’s business. As I see it, it’s okay to provide your birthday—but there’s no need to provide the year! It’s professional to provide a photo on a social media profile—but I get to choose the one that I like and post it for myself first. And, I can also “untag” photos on Facebook that I don’t like. In other words, the beauty of social media is that I have influence in how I am found. And so do you.
If you’re new to using social media, you don’t need to cave into peer pressure and create profiles on 15 different websites over the course of a weekend. It’s okay to take your time. It’s even okay to be a “lurker” and serve as the cyber equivalent of a “peeping Tom”: It’s perfectly legal to search profiles of other people who have similar work experiences to your own. Watch how others present themselves before you complete your own social media profiles! Decide how you want to be found—and make it happen.
That’s my quick take on the pitfalls and opportunities of getting “Googled” by your next employer. Your thoughts, comments, and ideas are much appreciated.