The Growing Problem with Digital Dirt

MedZilla explores the problems jobseekers may face with Digital dirt. For those unfamiliar with the term, digital dirt is damaging information about you that can be found online. Digital dirt can cost you more than just an interview.

Marysville, WA (PRWEB) May 23, 2007 -- "Digital dirt is becoming a problem for job seekers," says Frank Heasley, PhD, president and CEO of MedZilla, a leading internet recruitment and professional community that targets job seekers and HR professionals in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and life sciences. For those unfamiliar with the term, digital dirt is damaging information about you that can be found online. It can include photos, personal web sites, blogs, and any information about your employment or education that does not match what you put on your resume. "Recruiters and employers commonly run internet searches on prospective employees to see if anything embarrassing or illegal comes up. When digital dirt does turn up, it usually causes the recruiter or employer to drop the candidate from consideration for the job. In addition to search engines such as Google, recruiters and hiring managers also search social networking sites, such as MySpace or Facebook, to find information about candidates," Heasley says.

Digital dirt can cost you more than just an interview. Information found on social networking sites like MySpace has caused job offers to be rescinded, and has led to employees being fired for things that happened even before their employment began. In 2005, AAA of Southern California reportedly fired 27 employees because of messages they posted on MySpace. Celebrities are also frequently besmirched by digital dirt. Recently, Miss Nevada USA 2007, Katie Rees, lost her crown and title because risqué photos taken years before she was crowned came to light. Photos or text, whether posted by or about you, can cause problems forever, because just removing them from one site doesn't guarantee that someone hasn't copied the material and posted it to another web site. Photos that seemed hilarious in college or even high school probably will not amuse a potential employer. Forum posts that seemed innocuous at the time can be damaging later when the information in them leads a potential employer to conclude that you're not the type of person they want representing their company. Even just the way something is written could turn off a potential employer. Your profanity could outweigh your profundity.

A recent search of MySpace.com for "pharmaceutical sales" produced a surprising amount of digital dirt. One young woman, a pharmaceutical sales representative, announced at the top of her MySpace page, "I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom." She went on to list her full name - complete with both her maiden and married surnames - as well as her complete date of birth and the city and state in which she lives. She also included references to sexual activities and admitted to having shoplifted. When the search was done in reverse - entering her name into a search engine as a recruiter might do from a resume - her MySpace page turned up at the top of the search results. The search also turned up several other current pharmaceutical sales representatives who listed their full names and the companies for which they work, as well as an assortment of indiscretions, illegal acts, tawdry photos, and proclivities that are better kept private. One recent college graduate, who requested anonymity, was shocked to learn that her MySpace page - which contained photos and posts that most companies would find objectionable - could be the reason that she has had difficulty even getting a job interview. "It never occurred to me that anyone would Google me and see my page. MySpace and Facebook, that's just something we all do for fun and to meet people and keep in touch. I never thought someone might not give me a job because of it."

Some job seekers feel that such searches are an invasion of their privacy. However, when posting private information in a public place - and there is no place more public than the internet - you waive any claim to privacy. It's implicit in posting information on a web site that the information is going to be seen. That is, after all, the very reason for posting information online - so that others will see it. "We advise candidates to not post their information on any site," says Larry Cooper, President of Cooper Staffing & Recruiting, a leading recruiter to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. "Photos and some internet posts usually cheapen a candidate's appearance to the companies."

Photos and blogs aren't the only electronic roadblocks to finding a job. "We recognized some time ago that it's easy to make mistakes when using the internet for your job search. One of the most common is whimsical or downright embarrassing email addresses," Heasley says. "MedZilla eliminated that problem, and several related ones, by simply anonymizing all of our candidates' and employers' email addresses."

Since recruiters are retained by employers to supply them with high-quality job candidates, they are under pressure to screen candidates thoroughly to ensure that their business relationships with client companies won't be tarnished by candidates who turn out to have digital skeletons in their closets. "Credibility is very important to my business," says Dale Statson, President of Sales Executives, another search firm specializing in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. "I need to do a job successfully for a client who's paying me a fee. As recruiters, we are in business to be able to sell a product. So I wouldn't term it 'digital dirt' - it's a beneficial thing to be able to check out our candidates, and we're not trying to derail them but to validate them. Employers want to know details before investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new employee."

How can you find out if there is digital dirt tarnishing your reputation? The first step is to do what is called 'narcisurfing'. By entering your name and other identifying information, such as your alma mater, into a search engine, you can begin find out whether you have digital dirt and, if so, where it can be found. Cleaning up the digital dirt can be a bit difficult, but a good way to start is by removing anything potentially embarrassing that you have posted to pages that you control, such as your MySpace page. If the digital dirt is turning up on someone else's web site, they may be willing to remove it if asked. The best practice, of course, is to never post any questionable information online in the first place; however, if digital dirt is already out there, it should be cleaned up as much as possible before you start a job search.

About MedZilla.com
Established in mid-1994, MedZilla is the original web site to serve career and hiring needs for professionals and employers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, science and healthcare. The MedZilla jobs database contains about 7,500 open positions. The resume databank currently contains over 267,000 resumes, 16,500 less than three months old. These resources have been characterized as the largest, most comprehensive databases of their kind on the web in the industries served.

MICHELE GROUTAGE
360-657-5681
Email: mgroutage@medzilla.com






























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