MLK Day, President’s Day….Data Privacy Day?

On January 28, 2010, Microsoft sponsored Data Privacy Day and left us thinking—who knew we would ever honor privacy of online photos and blogs with a “day”? In Washington DC, Microsoft held its 4th annual panel discussion entitled “Think Privacy?  Your reputation is ON the LINE” to empower consumers to take control of their online reputations.  Since social networks and blogging are becoming a bigger part of a person’s daily life, it is no surprise that it has a correlated effect on their jobs. Is this fair? Depends on who you ask.

Microsoft conducted a survey in December 2009 that presented data showing how online reputations effect job applicants.  70% of Human Resource workers in the US admit to denying job applicants a position due to their online behavior. In close comparisons 60% of web surfers acknowledge that their online “life” may affect their careers. Astonishingly of the 60% only 15% take consideration for their careers (or possible careers) when posting information.

Many companies have formal policies for checking online reputational data and, in the United States, male recruiters are more likely to perform the check.  These recruiters also search deeper than most consumers are aware. Despite the fact that all online information is not true, recruiters feel all information is valid.  Recruiters also report that they tell applicants when online information plays a role in the company’s decision; however candidates claim not to hear this.

One key thing to remember is not all information on the internet can harm you.  In fact, 86% of recruiters admitted that good online reputations have positive effects on the candidate’s chances of being hired. Needless to say, people need to become more aware of what the put on social networks and blog sites. This is not to say do not use these sites, just use them with caution because companies are looking!

Danielle Murray