The success of Myspace is truly unprecedented, with over a 100 million users, and similar but infinitely more usable Facebook has recently turned down a 1 Billion US Dollar purchase attempt from Yahoo!
The influence and reach of these sites and their ilk is huge and there are few regular Internet users who won’t have come across them, and a significant proportion have set themselves up profiles.
As with any new technology there has been plenty of panic about the risks of Myspace and its peers in the mainstream press. And while there are certainly dangers on these sites, with plenty of undesirable characters lurking in the recesses, there is a slightly less severe but far more common problem that can come from participating in these virtual communities.
Business Week recently reported on what is becoming an increasing common occurrence; the ‘Google-ing’ of a potential employee. If the potential employees name is Chris Jones they will probably be free to do as they will online, but those with a slightly more obscure name can be found far more easily.
I only need to look back at photos from a few years ago to be embarrassed about my past, so for a generation that has spent much of their youth online there is going to be plenty of regrettable forum posts, awkward blog stories and unfortunate photos hiding in the Google cache.
So my advice to any ‘wannabe social network junkie’ would be to follow these five tips to avoid Myspace ruining your job prospects:
1 – Set up two email address; a professional and a personal one, this way even if they Google the email address you use to submit your CV they won’t be able to track down your online mischief.
2 – Never use your full name as your username, that’s just asking for Google to find it and playing right into the hands of any nosey employers or work colleagues for that matter.
3 – Think who could be reading – Whenever you write a comment on a blog or a message on a forum remember, even though it might be the smallest of websites, with a tiny niche audience; inevitably it could find its way onto the first page of the search results, so think twice about what you post.
4 – Positively manage your professional online identity – If you are actively looking for a job, or have some spare time while you’re at Uni, set a davesmith.com website with details of your CV, interests and maybe even a blog about the industry you work in/ want to work in. Look to take advantage of social networking tools like linkedin.com too!
5 – Be a Good Parent – Name your children something really nondescript so they won’t have this problem!