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Do's and Don'ts of Requesting a Raise
10 Signs that you're stuck in a Dead End job
Habits that can harm your Career
Evergreen Interview Mistakes that Should be Avoided
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Holiday Season Etiquette
Don't Let Digital Dirt Sabotage Your Job Hunt
How Not To Write A CV!
Easy ways to settle into your new job
In-House Bloggers Offer an Insider's View
Companies keep an eye on workers' Internet use
Stronger hiring expectations in the first quarter of 2005
Body Struggles When Sleeping Time Changes
Got fired! Relax and start getting ahead
How to deal with getting fired
The Importance of PMO
CEO tales of excess and greed
Are IT professionals Mammon worshippers?
Writing-off technical writers
Sex, lies and malice at the workplace
Stop fooling with knowledge assets
Senior executives salaries take a beating
Obituary: Silicon Valley's soul is dead
Sinha gets an F from techies
No entry for IT layoffs in Indian law
Employers want real bang for their buck
Bugged Relationships: Developers versus Testers
News views and all the juice!
Tech salaries bearish but do not pinch
IT companies play Peeping Tom
A name is a name is a name or is it!
E-sops lose their wow factor
Night thoughts of a cyber feminist
G-eeks! System Crash
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Don't Let Digital Dirt Sabotage Your Job Hunt

If you're an avid blogger, used to cataloguing your life into episodes online, you might want to clean up your online act. The reason it could jeopardize your chances in the job market. As it turns out, "digital dirt" information about you, your hobbies, your photos and ramblings that are available on the Internet through personal Web sites, profiles on popular social-networking sites, and on blogs have cost many individuals their chances at a prospective job.

According to a survey by ExecuNet in 2005, 75% of recruiters use search engines to uncover information about candidates, and 26% of recruiters have eliminated candidates because of information found online ranging from risque photos, brags about excessive drinking and promiscuity to misstated academic qualifications, radical political views, objectionable jokes and even negative comments about former employers.

It's not hard to find information about a person online these days thanks to several search engines. All one has to do is just Google a name and Presto! Instant dirt! Fortunately there are ways to protect oneself from such an online onslaught.

Firstly, clean up your online profile. Remove or change pictures and postings that you think might come across as objectionable or unflattering to a recruiter or interview.

Next "Narcisurf" i.e. look your name up on a search engine. Don't stick to a single search engine instead use engines like dogpile.com which retrieves results from multiple engines.

If objectionable information about you is on a website, you can contact the webmaster about having it changed or removed. If that's not possible, be prepared to cough up an explanation in case the subject of your online personality is brought up. Then again, remember that you might not even be asked to explain your online profile and you might lose out on your candidacy.

Check your profile regularly to see what comments have been posted. Sites like MySpace and Facebook allow users to post comments about fellow members. This means that strangers can comment on you, your photos and other content. To avoid having such comments from working against you, especially if they're off-color, activate privacy features that block such comments and allow your blog to be viewed by only confirmed users.

Freelance writer Jared Flesher suggests covering up your dirt by crowding it with positive information. According to him, search engines typically rank their results based on the number of sites that link to those pages. The more links, the higher the search ranking. So the trick is to make sure that the pages you want recruiters to see have more links to them than the pages you'd rather keep hidden.

He also suggests using sites like Pubsub.com and Feedster that monitor your Web presence and alert you by email when your name is mentioned in Internet newsgroups, blogs and securities filings.

Another safe option is to blog using a pseudonym. There are ways in which one can use online networks to promote oneself professionally. Sites like LinkedIn focus more on the professional side of an individual than the personal.

Sometimes the information that pops up may contain the same name as a candidate but may not be about the candidate. In such cases, the individual is at the mercy of the recruiter. His chances of getting the job depend on whether the recruiter takes the trouble to verify if the information is accurate and about the person in question.

Recruiters don't always carry out online background checks with the intention of digging up dirt per say. Sometimes they look for information that will be useful in establishing a rapport with the candidate. But in most cases the information they find has a negative impact on their impression of the candidate causing them to lean more towards candidates who have either clean online profiles or none at all.

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