In many professional fields, it is a good idea to have a site that employers can visit to check out your work—but sales is not one of them. This method of personal promotion is primarily for those based in arts and entertainment. Subjecting a business or sales employer to a personal website will trap you on thin ice, teetering on the possibility that the employer will get annoyed or turned off at any given moment. Now, is that really what you want?
Personal websites can be fun. It's exciting when you find that perfect Bon Jovi song and the electric blue and black flame background that captures the true essence of your soul. Though you may not understand why anyone in his or her right mind would not enjoy viewing your resume with "Living on a Prayer" blaring through the computer speakers, visiting these sites can actually make employers feel strange and awkward. One anonymous employer said that he was actually enjoying an online resume submitted by an applicant when he accidentally stumbled upon the candidate's wedding photos, which gave him an uncomfortable and confusing feeling. Although this glimpse into the candidate's love life ultimately did not prevent the employer from offering him the job opportunity, it definitely did not help him in any way.
Links to social networking sites like MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook are even bigger no-nos. MySpace, for instance, highlights your sexual orientation, vices, and religion. As I have said before, even if you do not care, people are naturally biased, which means this extra information could help you or put you at a disadvantage. Your choice of friends—your "top eight"—might even play a part in the employer's decision. If you have eight half-naked porn stars in your top friends section, chances are the employer is going to notice that. Similarly, he or she may not enjoy the drunken photos of you and your girls partying it up in Rosarito.
Then there are my personal favorites: the obscene and offensive photos and graphics that friends randomly post on each other's pages. And let's not forget that the ranting blogs describing how your boyfriend cheated on you with his ex and how you are slowly "moving on" could also be detrimental (and make you seem neurotic). Most employers don't want to know too much about candidates' personal lives because, when it comes down to it, they need to remain as objective as possible in order to find people who are truly qualified. They do not want their hatred for your all-time favorite band, Cheap Trick, and knowledge of your weekend party habits to throw off their decisions.
Right about now, you may be thinking, "Ha! You think I'm stupid enough to send someone a link to my MySpace page?" Well, you'd better put that baby on private ASAP because now, more than ever, employers are regularly searching MySpace and Google to see what their applicants are really up to. According to an article in The New York Times, one employer looked up a "promising" graduate's Facebook page, which read, under the "interests" heading, "smokin' blunts, shooting people, and obsessive sex." Although the applicant was obviously trying to reach that oh-so-clever level of shock value that can only be found on such sites, it cost him the employment opportunity. He was "done." And the employer who looked him up is only one of many who are lurking about; who knows, maybe you did not land your last job opportunity because of your MySpace page.
With statistics showing that at least 50% of all employers regularly do background checks and as the popularity of social networking sites grows, it is worth it to watch out. In an article in last August's Entrepreneur Magazine, Tim DeMello, founder and CEO of Ziggs, stated it perfectly when he said, "You are what you post." So before you send out any more resumes, you might want to remove that huge marijuana leaf background from your MySpace page.
Online resumes can be great assets when it comes to featuring your talents and attributes—but only if you are an artist, actor, writer, or designer of some sort. Otherwise, keep your wedding photos and theme songs under wraps. Allow employers to fully experience your resume and get a sense of what you can offer to their companies without subjecting them to unnecessary photos and graphics. In the end, you will eliminate your chances for humiliation and boost your chances of getting hired.