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A friend has shared some information that could be interpreted negatively about me in his blog. While you will probably not run across the page by itself, it is rather out in the open when Googling my name. Since I can not take this content down myself and requests for my friend to remove it have proven fruitless I am left with the potential task of dealing with the fall out from this in my job search.

How will this affect the job application process? Can I take steps to address this during the interview process?

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16  
Can you ask your friend to remove unwanted information? Could you provide any more detail about the nature of these conversations or what aspects of them you worry will be seen? There's a big difference between something embarassing you may have admitted to like accidentally locking yourself out of a car and admission of lawbreaking or something that could be seen as racist. (Edit: I'm not assuming anything these are just examples) –  Alpar Aug 6 at 11:20
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Are you in the EU, and how old is the post. Recent EU legislation allows "the right to be forgotten" in which you can request search results be removed –  Richard Tingle Aug 6 at 11:35
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why does a 'blog' have records of a 121 chat ? –  Pepone Aug 6 at 14:37

4 Answers 4

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Should I be worried?

You can expect all potential employers to google/bing you at some point during the hiring process.

I know I do, and as far as I can tell with my friends and associates, it's become a standard practice for most hiring managers. I search using Google and Bing. I also look on Facebook and some professional sites (like stackexchange).

And why not? As a hiring manager I want to find out as much as I can about a candidate. Is she the kind of person who bad-mouths her employer publicly? If so, I can expect that she'll do the same for my company. Is he into illegal hacking? If so, I may not want him representing my company. Is she bragging about lying to her employer? Since I don't like liars, perhaps I don't want to hire her. Did he posted compromising pictures of himself and many young women? If so, I may not want to hire him for my YWCA center.

For some jobs, and with some content, just discovering it could disqualify you for the position completely. In other cases, it will just be a minor negative mark.

Like it or not, everything you put on the internet (and everything put on the internet associated with you) is out there for public consumption - good or bad.

You can clean up your act now, even if cleaning up your past is difficult. Try not to let others post anything about you that would put you in an unflattering light professionally.

If friends have already posted information that you wish to have removed, contact them and ask. Something like "Hey, good friend. It was fun at the time, but now that I'm seeking professional employment, how about if you remove those private conversations? Or at least remove my name? And I'll do the same for you. Thanks, friend!" should work. If they are truly your friend, they will understand and comply with your wishes.

That said, hiring managers understand that sometimes people were young and foolish. We've all done silly things in our past. Many are willing to forget the indiscretions of youth that aren't ongoing. Hopefully whatever you find when you google yourself doesn't reflect too badly on your recent past, and you don't need to worry too much.

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@guest123456789, don't forget the Internet History Machine –  alroc Aug 6 at 14:15
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@alroc I suspect most won't go to such lengths to find out information about a candidate, as @JoeStrazzere said, ...hiring managers understand when people are young and foolish, so one can guess that if it's not searchable they probably wised up about it. –  Seiyria Aug 6 at 14:27

When asking whether you should worry you need to consider the following:

How often do employers google prospective employees and how thoroughly?

This happens more and more now as people put so much information online but perhaps not as often as people think. The intentions can be a mix of looking for examples of a persons work (particularly in the software industry) and looking for any warning signs not to employ that person.

The skill and thoroughness of this depends on the employer. Some will not be as tech savvy as others, there are still many older people in work who do not have a good grasp of computing or do not know about the information it is possible to find online.

What is the nature of the information?

If it is indicative of criminal activity, things like racism or particularly bad behavior like binge drinking and getting into a fight you should defninitely worry a lot.

If displays aspects of your character or past behavior that isn't illegal or offensive then you have to ask if it would cause an employer to have second thoughts about hiring you. Unless it's particularly bad then this will not necessarily cause them to outright reject you.

If it's just personal information that you find embarassing then you do not need to worry as any decent employer should not be affected by it.

I would say you are probably the third option with a bit of the second based on the information you gave.

Where is it ranked on google under different combinations of search terms?

If it's not on the first page then I consider it highly unlikely that you need to worry. In fact if it's not in the top 5 then for the majority of cases you are probably fine.

Is it obvious before you click on it that it's about you sepcifically?

If not then this reduces the risk of clicking and even if you do click it would have to be practically beyond doubt you being referred to.

How possible is it to get the information deleted or hidden?

If it is an individual rather than a news site it will obviously be a lot easier. In your case it should be quite easy to do this as it is a friend.

Any things on social networking sites can generally be reported or have privacy settings changed. If your friend refuses to change the details you can potentially report the content depending on where the blog is hosted.

You can use search engine optimisation (or SEO) to outrank the bad results on google but it will take time.

You can also take a legal route but again this could take time and possibly money.

Can I take steps to address this during the interview process?

Probably only if the information is expressly mentioned. You can try to do some damage control anyway; if you think the information makes you look lazy, for example, you can bring up some examples of things you did that prove you aren't.

I've generalised this answer a bit to make it more useful for others. You may find this article interesting.

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Note if taking the legal route: you are more likely to burn bridges trying to take the information down than leaving it up, (assuming the information isn't too damaging) - because the court records are also public (and easy to find with a google search). –  Tyzoid Aug 6 at 13:18

If your potential employeer googles your name, HR is just doing due diligence. If something damaging will surface later, HR will ask if this could be prevented, and why it was not. It is just fact of life.

The only way is to pollute sources. Have so much pages with your name that damaging page is way down on the search.

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Depends on content. But i can guess that depends on actual employer as well and the job you are applying to. It is probably true that most of the employers check social networks, just to see what content you make public and if there are any other information besides what you said on resume.

Although I don't think that if you, for example, apply for construction site manager that employer will look for information on you on web. But if you are, for example, applying for programmer position than employer could search the web for any programming content you might have published.

I suggest you better control what you put on web and suggest your friends do the same, because if its up there than it up there for good! Especially in social sites.

I have a friend who lost a job opportunity because of this. He was included in some few compromising photos which could be found when his name was googled. The potential employer saw that content and even asked about it on interview. Its not said that is was because of the content, but it placed him in really awkward and uncomfortable position. Which maybe led to not getting the job because of stress and other factors.

I am not saying that you will not get employed because of that, but be ready to answer some question if job requires you not to have compromising content for web public.

Just be careful in the first place not to get included in pictures and stories you don't want to be included in.

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