If there was ever a testimonial about how an online persona can affect your future career, check out the questionaire that potential employees in the Obama administration have to complete.
Here are some sample questions that cut right to the chase:
“If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an email, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-elect if it were made public, please describe.”
“Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g. Facebook, My Space, etc.)”
“Please list, and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column, or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the internet.”
Imagine if every employer started to do this? The Class of 2009 should be wise and start cleaning up that online persona now before it is too late.
Does it mean that you won't get hired with a compromised online persona? No it doesn't mean that. The key is to make a good faith effort to fix the issue.
One of the biggest challenges I see with college students is they don't know what their image might be online. When they do find out, sometimes it is hard to get the owner of the content to do the right thing.
One suggestion is to Google yourself periodically to see what kind of online persona you have and whether or not it could kill your future career.