In addition to writing a resume and cover letter, job hunters need to add one more step before applying for a job: googling themselves. Simply speaking, they can run their name through a search engine and take a look at the search results that appear. (Hint: put the name in quotation marks, and include the hometown if the name is a common one.) They should search on social networking sites too. This is exactly what potential employers and school admissions personnel will do before reviewing a candidate further.
It's great when search engines find records that reflect on the positive aspects of an individual, such as the finish time of last summer's 5K or a nicely written editorial submitted to the local media. It's not-so great to dig up angry rants left in an online forum or embarrassing photos from a night out with friends. If the search reveals a post that is negative, job hunters can email a polite request to have it removed.
Furthermore, a proactive job hunter can work to build up a positive online reputation by writing articles for industry publications or simply participating in online forums as a knowledgeable and helpful contributor. Nothing is stopping anyone from using the Web to gain an advantage.
For more information on this topic, take a look at some of the articles below on MySecureCyberspace.