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Online information divides roughly into 3 categories:

  1. What I advertise to prospective employers (e.g. StackOverflow, Xing, LinkedIn)

  2. What is available about me under my real name, but isn't specifically advertised to employers (e.g. a blog, Twitter or public Facebook information)

  3. What I post "anonymously" or intentionally kept private (Disqus posts, Twitter or facebook under false names, posts on other bulletin boards, restricted Facebook profile content).

Obviously, the first 2 categories are stuff that I'm aware potential employers can see. The 3rd category isn't - it consists of the kind of personal stuff that I don't usually advertise in the workplace.

I should make it clear, that I'm not hiding any terrible secrets like membership of terrorist organisations, extreme political views, or even embarrassing drunken photos. Neither am I applying for government jobs where I would expect to be vetted. This question is really about how separate should we expect private life and professional life to be in 2015.

What information do HR routinely have access to about professional candidates in the EU (maybe also things that I haven't thought of mentioning)?
For example, can they see information collected online by companies like Disqus about the sort of articles that people post on under a username, and would they have access to twitter or facebook accounts that are under "anonymous" usernames?

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  • Have you seen if the information under your screen names comes up in a search? Is there any obvious way to connect those screen names with your CV? Imagine yourself in the HR position and think about how much effort you want to put in for a search.
    – Brandin
    Feb 12 '15 at 22:57
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tl;dr

There is no normal in this scenario; one will dig as deep as the hole can get meanwhile others will just stick with peeking on your CV and contacting the people that recommend you. Although, most employers will Google you before your interview.

So

Reflecting on what many say, most employers (>80% according to that huffington post article) do indeed Google you before you're interviewed, probably with the intention to see if there's anything negative about you that stands out.

If your social media accounts are public then you should assume that you're looked up and your views are taken into account in the recruitment process.

Why wouldn't they? It's free information that could spare them a great amount of money. One might argue that this is not ethical but since there are no laws about this then there's not much you can do about it -- expect hide what you wish to remain hidden.

This question is really about how separate should we expect private life and professional life to be in 2015.

You have no private live when your name is associated with it, especially on the internet. Always imagine that everything you say on the internet, or in general really, will appear to your employer's desk in a regular report. Don't say anything you wouldn't want your employer to see, or ask yourself whether you'd like your parent to see what you're about to submit or not.

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  • Thank you, but this doesn't really answer the question, because I said that I assume that public social media information will be seen. How far is it normal to dig into anonymous or restricted information? "Anonymous" means little as information gained from accounts with fake user names is used for targeted advertising, but is it also available to recruiting companies?
    – Guest
    Feb 10 '15 at 10:38
  • @Guest Like I said, no one knows. No one can answer this question since there is no normal in this concept. One will go all in in digging meanwhile others will only stick with your CV.
    – Jonast92
    Feb 10 '15 at 13:00
  • If you ask me what normal practices in my job are, and what's available to help us do our job, I could tell you, even if my current company doesn't do them. Thank you for your edit.
    – Guest
    Feb 10 '15 at 13:15
  • @Guest I doubt that people actually talk that much about it but I honestly think that you're Googled every time to see if there's anything negative that stands out.
    – Jonast92
    Feb 10 '15 at 13:32
  • @Guest I made an edit.
    – Jonast92
    Feb 10 '15 at 13:36
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Company HR has no different access than you do. They do not have special rights or facilities. For the rest it's a matter of how much effort people want to put into finding out about you.

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