GoogleSearchOverall the internet is a wonderful place that allows us to learn so much at our fingertips. It’s like having the combination of encyclopedia’s, travel guides, exploring real estate as well as the potential of building relationships and finding your next job or career!

Of course we all know there are pros and cons to everything, and the internet isn’t any exception. Let’s keep in mind, there will always be glitches with technology and there will always be new apps and websites being introduced online. The main concern is our human behavior and conduct – digitally speaking.

The cliche, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is more meaningful today, as I have frequently said — “Today your first impression is likely your digital one.”  More and more studies are substantiating this.

In a recent study from Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 84% of organizations (businesses) are using social media to screen potential job candidates while 9% are planning to use it. With this, 36% of them have disqualified applicants due to what they have found online.

There can be a gray line between internet fact verses internet fiction. I know, I was a victim of cyber-defamation. When I was attacked online, my virtual landscape was a war-zone. The fact is a person looking to hire you typically doesn’t take the time to determine if what they are reading online is true or false. They will most likely move on to the next candidate/applicant.

Why do businesses take the time to use social media for background searches?

In the SHRM study, the majority of (61%) employers turned to the applicants social media activity to learn more about them and/or to verify their resume. (And more, read below).


I frequently discuss online reputation and social behavior online. We have witnessed many cyber-blunders which people have lost their jobs while some never made it to their first day due to stupid Tweets or posts.

What this study revealed is in line with what Career Builders survey showed as each year more and more job applicants were not invited for an interview due to their social media behavior. It’s more than content, it’s how they conduct themselves online.

As  a reminder, according to that survey, these were the following top five pieces of content that turned employers off:

  • 46% – Provocative or inappropriate photographs
  • 40% – Information about candidate drinking or using drugs
  • 34% – Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee
  • 30% – Poor communication skills
  • 29% – Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc.

In a PEW Study, we know that most adults still favor Facebook (71%) as their social gathering place and second for them is LinkedIn.

According to the SHRM study, both Facebook and LinkedIn are the two top sites used for screening social behavior activity by organizations.  They note that Twitter and Google+ are also being recognized.

How the internet can change your life depends on many things. What can you do about it?

  • Have you set-up your Google alerts? Sure, we all talk about it, but have you done it? Being proactive about what search engines are saying about you is a good practice. It’s important to know how/or if your name is being used online so you can be proactive.
  • Do you pause before you post or send an email? Too many people can double or triple task while thinking. Take the time to actually stop/pause before you send something into cyber-space.
  • Do you make a practice of checking your privacy settings on a regular basis? They can change without notice.
  • Are you someone that overshares? Humble bragging is not a compliment or an attribute. Learn to make lists to share with those that are interested in your family  and personal photos. Share with those that really do care.
  • De-cluttering your contacts and friends lists. Whether it’s on your cell-phone,  Facebook or any social networking platform, make it a habit to regularly delete people you aren’t familiar with. How many of us have butt dialed someone we didn’t mean to (and really only have called a few times) or sent an email to the wrong “Mary” since we have 20 of them in our email address book!

The internet can change your life. You have the ability to make it happen. It’s literally at your fingertips. Let’s be sure the changes are in a positive direction.