Keeping a professional digital image a key aspect of job hunting

What do potential employers see when they Google your name?

Holt senior Kelly Hamlett said she was skeptical of what a potential employer might find if her name was put into a Google search box. Like many students, the Holt native said some of the pictures that have been tagged on her Facebook account are from parties, spring break and other times when she was "caught in the moment."

“It may not look good, but that isn’t who I am,” Hamlett said. “Whenever I tell people I go to (Central Michigan University), they say 'oh, a big party school,' but I’m here to get a degree; that’s the main thing.”

Hamlett has a 3.5 grade point average and is excited about diving into her professional life, which might not be reflected by a simple Google search of her name.

According to a Dec. 31 Associated Press article, universities including Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore now offer an online tool to help students clean up their online reputations.

It has been a growing trend for most employers to Google their prospective hires, and the majority of them won't consider hiring applicants if their results yield drunken photos and other images displaying unprofessional behavior.

But the online tools won't eliminate the embarrassing material from the Web forever, rather, they just put the student's most professional image on the initial search page.

“Employers invest hundreds of dollars on training and hundreds of contact hours with new employees,” Assistant Director of Career Services Victoria Stevens said. “When a company or organization hires someone, they want to make sure that they know as much information, good or bad, because they are investing themselves and wanting to have a well-rounded understanding of their company members ... The good or bad baggage that comes with someone is a representation of the company.”

Stevens said students should never post anything online that they wouldn’t want seen on a billboard on I-75. She said even when students think they have something locked or hidden, it is still much more easily accessible to future employers than they think.

“People are not very smart with what they put on Facebook. Personally, I try to only put things on my page that show me in a positive light,” Dewitt native and graduate student Kimberly Tate said. “When applying for grad school I made especially sure that my profile was clean, and if a friend tagged me in something that was inappropriate I would untag myself.”

Most people agree that these online tools to manage Internet reputations are great, because they help students realize how important a social media image can be. Stevens recommends creating a LinkedIn profile to start the journey to a clean social media image.

“LinkedIn has worked with Google so if you have a LinkedIn account, this is the first thing that is populated about you, your professional self, and all the goodness you have to offer is front and center to the potential employer,” Stevens said. “Career Services offers two sessions a month: one lecture and one lab format that showcase to students what LinkedIn has to offer.”

The LinkedIn sessions are held in the Park Library and the Bovee University Center. Dates and times can be found on the Career Services website.


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