A Web Presence Is Cheaper Than an Interview by by Philip Brewer, wisebread.com
The first time I was interviewed for a job, I was surprised at how little time was spent talking about my qualifications, and how much time was spent just talking. Only years later — after I started doing interviews myself — did I come to understand. By the time you get to the interview stage, the employer has already decided that you have the skills to do the work. In the interview, they're trying to figure out if you'll fit in. They want to make sure that you're not a jerk or a flake. But interviews are expensive — and however limited the picture of someone that you'll get from their web presence, it's often enough to spot the jerks and the flakes. (See also: 13 Ways to Make a Good Impression at Your Job Interview)
If your web footprint makes you look like a jerk or a flake, interviews are going to be few and far between. But if your web footprint is so sparse that someone taking a good look at it comes away without any strong sense of the sort of person you are, there's every reason to fear that you won't get the benefit of the doubt. They'll just look at the next guy, and the guy after that. Soon enough they'll find someone with enough of a web presence that they feel like they've got a sense of the guy. That's the applicant they'll call in for an interview.
Make sure your web footprint doesn't make you look like a jerk or a flake — and make sure it's dense enough that it looks real, and not like the creation of a few days of trying to fake something up (or a lifetime of bad behavior with all the bad posts hidden).
Beyond the Job Search
Your web presence already matters in your job search, but soon it's going to matter for everything. Lots of interactions are already heavily reliant on social media reputation — dating (especially online dating, but also real-life dating), doing freelance work, selling second-hand goods, and so on. Credit scoring won't be far behind, and probably getting insurance as well.
Time to get ready for it.
Are you actively maintaining your online reputation? Has your online persona helped or hurt you?