Microsoft has released the results from a recent study that show just how negligent we are when it comes to managing our online image -- and how seriously that kind of negligence can hamper our chances of landing a job.
In a survey of Web-surfers, human resource workers, and employment recruiters across the U.S., U.K., Germany and France, researchers found that, although most people acknowledge that their personal online behavior may have ramifications in their professional lives, comparatively few actually consider that fact when publishing photos or posts online. A full 70-percent of surveyed HR workers in the U.S. admitted to rejecting a job applicant because of his or her Internet behavior. Meanwhile, about 60-percent of surfers admit to being concerned that their online behavior may affect their professional or personal lives. A mere 15-percent of them, though, actually take these potential repercussions into consideration when posting content.
By the same token, digital reputation can also have an equally positive effect on an applicant's chances; 86-percent of U.S. HR workers said that a good online reputation can have a positive impact on a job candidate's chances -- and about half said that a solid image can have a major impact. It's this positive spin that Microsoft's Peter Cullen wants readers to take away from the study, saying that "online reputation is not something to be scared of; it's something to be proactively managed." He urges the regular Web-user to cultivate "the online reputation that you would want an employer" to see.
In an ideal world, of course, your personal life would be impermeably separated from your professional existence. As we all know -- and as this study plainly shows -- that's just not the case anymore. We wouldn't recommend turning your Facebook profile into some saccharine rendition of a cover letter, though, as overt self-promotion is probably as much of a professional turn-off as those pics of you taking Jell-O shots freshman year. But just be aware that your online character is as much a part of your CV as your off-line character. It sucks, but it's reality.