Here's a little secret: one of the first things a future employer will do is "Google" you. A good recruiter will Google you first - before the firm has a chance to do so. What is out there about you?
Last week, I was recently speaking to an attorney who was interested in working with BCG on his job search. He is working at a big firm and was looking to make a lateral move. In our preliminary conversation, he mentioned that he had worked at two firms. After our conversation, I wanted to see what was out there about him - and I found that he had worked at a third firm as well. When I asked him about it, he asked me how I had heard about that. He was shocked when I said a ten second Google search. If I found it, any potential employer can find it as well. Be honest. Full disclosure.
Yesterday, David Lat from Above the Law highlighted another unfortunate case. A 21 year old who is scheduled to begin Fordham Law School this fall was featured in The Horny Issue of Time Out New York. This information will come up on the Internet for years to come. This girl has already hurt her law career - and she hasn't even begun law school or signed on the dotted line of her law school loans. Why would she want to handicap her future career prospects? Query whether a firm like Davis Polk would be interested in someone who has appeared in The Horny Issue or whether Fordham Law would want someone with such poor judgment. All types of people work at law firms - some with interesting and fascinating "hobbies." What you do is your business - but it is better to keep it on the down-low.
Recently, a candidate came to us and noted that he was gay, but that he didn't want to advertise that fact to potential employers. (Note to job hunters: the vast majority of firms don't care if you are gay.) Of course there isn't any obligation for you to disclose your sexual orientation. It's your business. Guess what? A super fast Google search. His sexual orientation disclosed to one and all. So, although he had intended to keep his orientation a secret, he really hadn't.
I am not going to even address the countless law students who have inappropriate photos and language on their MySpace or Facebook pages and other social networking sites. There are stories about those jobless people all the time.
Moral of the story? Always know what is out there about you! Do your best to control that information. If you don't, you'll be doing extensive damage control for a long time to come.
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