For those in the know, and on my personal Facebook page, I’ve been in Vegas celebrating my birthday with some friends and family. The pictures were being posted to Facebook almost as fast as they were being taken … and yet, I am quite comfortable that if my boss, a client, a conference organizer or the FBI somehow peeked into my Facebook page, I have nothing to hide. In addition to setting the security default for my Wall and ALL my photo albums to “Friends Only,” and not accepting every “friend” invitation that comes my way, I don’t post pictures of me or my friends doing or saying stupid things. Apparently, not everyone is so judicious as to what they are posting on Facebook, etc. And I’m not talking about high school and college kids … I’m speaking to you adults out there. How many times do we Social Web “experts” have to tell you “don’t post anything that you’ll regret” only to see the pictures, and stories, from your Cancun “lost weekend” start popping up in water cooler chat? How many celebrities need to get caught sexting for you to realize it’s not a good idea to send your paramour du jour messages while your spouse is off shooting a movie or taking care of the kids? CNN reports on a recent survey commissioned by Microsoft which”found that 70 percent of recruiters and hiring managers in the United States have rejected an applicant based on information they found online.”

What kind of information? “Inappropriate” comments by the candidate; “unsuitable” photos and videos; criticisms of previous employers, co-workers, or clients; and even inappropriate comments by friends and relatives, according to the survey report, titled “Online Reputation in a Connected World.”

In the past, hiring decisions were made by calling a few references; references, mind you, supplied by the candidate. Oh, every once in a while some “personal” due diligence was done. Call a friend at the firm to get the “real” back story. Completely illegal here in California, by the way, but we’ve all gotten those calls. Now all the HR department needs to do is Google the candidate:

The Microsoft survey found that 79 percent of U.S. hiring managers have used the Internet to better assess applicants. Dan Eggers of Partners Marketing Group in Marietta, Georgia, is among that 79 percent. “We review and certainly do research on anyone we’re looking at hiring or using as a contract employee,” Eggers said. “We would Google their name, look at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.”

So what does your on-line reputation look like?

  • Take the time to Google yourself on a regular basis. This is your personal reputation, and you alone are responsible for managing it.
  • Set up Google alerts on your name, Website, etc. to “listen” in on what is being said about you.
  • Quickly untag unflattering photos of yourself in others’ albums, and request that your friends take them down (including your MOM!).
  • Don’t wait until you are in the midst of job hunting after a corporate downsizing.
  • Delete any inappropriate photos, conversations, rants about your boss — of firm clients — where you can.
  • If you’ve been Tweeting rants about politics, co-workers, etc. … well, not too much we can do for you.
  • Before posting, pause and think: “would I want my mother to see this picture?”
  • Or, as I tell my kids, before you say it, ask yourself:
  1. is it TRUTHFUL?
  2. is it NICE?
  3. Is it NECESSARY?

(h/t to Jayne Navarre for sharing the CNN story)