Google is a blabber mouth!

If Google knows any of your personal business, he’s going to blab it to anyone who asks the right questions. Every detail you provide to a company during your job search could be used on search engines to reveal more information about you than you ever intended to share. It is important for every job seeker to safeguard themselves from unintentionally giving a potential employer access to personal things that aren’t really any of their business.

There are a few things a candidate should assume are going to be plugged into a search engine. Your name is an obvious guess. Isn’t it logical someone wanting to know more about you might run a search on your name to see what’s there? They may simply use your name or they may add in other key words such as cities you’ve lived in or the names of past employers. Run simple searches on your name and see what’s there. Unless the information that comes up is pulling from a site you have some degree of control over, you probably aren’t going to be able to make any of the information that is there go away. Still, being aware of what an employer might stumble across with a basic search gives you a chance to prepare for any backlash.

Other searches candidates should run on themselves include the phone numbers, street addresses and email addresses they are sharing on resumes or applications. Those are the types of details people occasionally share on message boards, forums, letters to the editor, church bulletins, etc., that can be picked up by search engines. The things that pop up may be flattering, boring and a non-issue, or they may reveal a bit more about yourself and your personal habits than you’d care for an employer to know about. A candidate I worked with a few years ago posted his email address on a message board for divorced fathers who were having custody issues. He input the address so fellow members could respond with advice for a problem he had. He said less than kind things about his ex-wife and shared intensely personal information about his situation. I discovered this information while doing my own searches on his background and was able to point it out to him so he could either edit the post or provide a different email address to employers in the future.

It’s hard to know if an employer knowing something like that would have a negative effect on a candidate’s chances for a job. It’s best not to risk it and do what you can to reduce the chance of it becoming known. Many job seekers are wisely opting to create new email addresses or sign up for cell phone numbers they use exclusively for the purpose of their search. They are careful not to post those addresses or numbers in any public forum. That doesn’t mean candidates need not bother to search on those addresses and numbers, however. If you weren’t the first one to have that cell number, there is no way to know how it was used in the past. Checking those numbers is an especially good idea for those who attract bad luck.

Now, go Google.

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