The hot story this year in the career pages of many publications is about how the Internet tracks you leave behind could cost you a job. We all know that now. (It’s akin to plastering your resume all over the Net, or writing your phone number on bathroom walls.) The question is, what can you do about it?

If you’ve been an errant blog poster, commenter on discussion forums, or out-of-control Facebooker, your digital leavings might be cleaned up — if you know how to do it. In Erasing Your Tracks, Computerworld editor Tracy Mayor walks us through efforts to expunge Google results on three people who regret their droppings. While only one got satisfaction, the stories of all three are instructive.

The Internet is wide and deep, and there is no flush handle.

  1. This is important for another reason. I heard of one girl who posted reference information on her resume and released it to the Internet. The main problem – one of her references was a Hollywood celebrity for whom she had previously nannied, and there was that celebrity’s personal information on the web. By the time her error was called to her attention, the resume was already out there.

  2. It’s interesting that even though by now it’s quite well known that stuff you put out on the Internet is virtually (pun intended!) forever, people still do it.

    Will it always be thus? Or will we look back on the days when people were so naive and shake our heads, wondering, “How could anyone have been so stupid?”

  3. I think your point is well-taken about being careful with your reputation, but I’d offer a different perspective. An online reputation can be a very good thing if its positive. Instead of avoiding the internet, why not embrace it?

    After all, do you build relationships in the real world by hiding in your home and avoiding answering the phone? No more than you do if you walk into someone’s home and spit on their rug. But if you truly make the effort to help others, behave honestly and honorably and be considerate, you will earn the trust and respect of your peers. An then they will be more likely to come to your defense if you are unjustly attacked or if what you say is taken out of context. But even better, these folks are more likely to introduce or recommend you to others which begins your new relationships on a positive note.

    The problem has been the people treat the internet like it is anonymous and ephemeral. It is neither, it’s just like real life and your actions (or lack of them) online and offline will affect how others think of you. So be nice, be positive, and behave.

  4. I link to my poems and pictures from my resume, at the bottom. My public online identity is sanitized but I’m not going to expunge it. The way you talk, it’s like your hiring for Secretary of State. My employers seek skilled labor that makes them feel comfortable. I’m an oddball blogger of some notoriety, and perhaps this eliminates opportunities I may not want anyhow.