I was part of an interview panel recently for a client and during the course of my pre-interview preparation I did my usual checks online with the various candidates.
This normally reveals a lot – you can see how strong their presence is online, you can see how good their communications skills are and you can see the things they care about.
Often what you discover from their social media activity can confirm what they have described on their CV’s, it can further illuminate who they are or it can even bring everything into question – is this a different person?
I love the LinkedIn profiles in particular and the great ones have genuine recommendations written for them supporting the work they did in particular roles, which makes it really easy to assess them.
You can also see other evidence of their lives, their blog posts, the websites they are listed on and even some media coverage they have been mentioned in…all very interesting.
In one individual’s case I quickly found a newspaper article whereby they had taken and settled a constructive dismissal case against a former employer!
According to the article the case was settled on the steps (of course!) and both sides were quoted as saying “they were happy with the outcome” – no doubt a cheque was written and this person backed down.
The unfortunate thing about the article is that this person was the only person named (the organisation was named but not the individuals involved) and as a result they have this against their name for people like me to find on a simple Google search.
Their CV obviously didn’t mention this incident – how could you even go about presenting this information to a prospective employer in a positive way? The CV told a different, quite positive story.
My immediate reaction was alarm bells – is this person trouble and are things not so rosey in their garden?
And then I reflected – maybe this person was bullied, maybe they were one of many in the organisation who were mistreated and instead of quietly moving on just maybe they were the ones who were strong and brave enough to stand up for themselves and make sure that this behaviour stopped?
Maybe they did this to ensure the practice of bullying stopped within the organisation?
Instead of being a huge negative maybe this incident gave a huge hint that this person was a strong person with high principles who was prepared to stand up and fight for what is right, even if it had the potential to make them look bad. In this case you could definitely argue that it did.
Isn’t it possible that a person like this is a rare gem and not the ‘troublemaker‘ we first thought?
The unfortunate truth is that in most cases this person won’t even get as far as an interview because we do jump to conclusions quickly so what can that person do?
They most take control of their ‘story’ online – make sure LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook tell a really positive story. Get those recommendations from previous employers and other people in business who will enforce the good stories.
The other big thing that person can do is to start self publishing online – start blogging, start guest blogging, push that expertise and passion out there and quickly that Google space will be filled with their own material and those old articles will gradually get pushed down the ranking and will not be found.
If they get to interview and the ‘topic’ comes up they should be prepared to tell the real story.
In this case the person had withdrawn from the process even though we were quite happy to interview them.
If they are a fighter they also have to fight for their own online presence and reputation!
A fighter could be the very person you need ..