Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow people to connect and share with the click of a button. Though we may love sharing funny cat videos and posting awkward stage photos of our friends, potential job candidates need to be increasingly careful about their digital footprint. The following is part one of a two-part series for job-seekers regarding “digital dirt.”


In today’s world, hiring managers don’t just rely on your word and resume to judge your qualifications as a candidate. Almost 75% of US-based recruiters surveyed report that their companies have formal policies in place that require the use of internet resources to further evaluate candidates. This is where the things you posted online 3 years ago, that you consider “old news,” can be very new to someone else. There are many ways for you to build a digital footprint and just as many ways for a potential employer to track them down.

Search Engines. The same search engine you use to look up a recipe for 7 layer nacho dip to bring to your Superbowl party also happens to be the easiest way for a recruiter to find your information. An employer can easily enter your name to see if anything worth investigating is returned in the search results. This quick investigation could potentially save the employer thousands and thousands of dollars by weeding out risky candidates. It’s important to understand that this tactic is generally used not to disqualify good applicants, but to ensure exceptional hires. Take the time to do a quick search of your name to see what information comes back. If you cannot delete a negative finding altogether, simply prepare to explain it.

Public Records. It is not uncommon these days for a hiring manager to gain access to your public records in order to help determine your fit as a potential candidate. When I say public records I’m referring to things such as a credit score, court record, criminal record, or even employment history. Though the majority of those applying for jobs do not have a history of incarceration, many do have a handful of credit cards that they keep in their wallets. Your credit score is one of those numbers that can say a lot about your financial responsibility, whether it be good or bad, but luckily can be fixed with an appropriate plan and commitment. If you do have something in your history, do not hide it: be prepared with a well thought out explanation. Be completely honest. I recently read an article where a candidate lost a prospective job because he lied about .05 points on his college GPA. When it comes to your public records, it is best to assume that all information will be considered and eventually used.

Check back next week for the second half of Digging Yourself out of Digital Dirt!