When Cara MacDonald placed an ad on Craigslist for an administrative assistant, the last thing she expected to get was a peep show. But that's exactly what she found when one of the job applicants sent a link to her personal Web site, complete with YouTube videos.
"Intrigued and admittedly nosy," MacDonald followed the link, horrified to find a clip of the woman dancing provocatively in a lacy lingerie top and super-short mini skirt.
But that wasn't the worst of it.
"Periodically, throughout those five minutes of disturbia, she flashes the camera, and it's 'I see London, I see France -- she's not wearing underpants!'" said MacDonald, a member services manager at HigherBracket.ca, an executive job search site that caters to six-figure earners in Canada.
"I'm not sure I would even believe it if I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes. If only I could un-see it now."
Needless to say, the dancing queen wasn't contacted for an interview. After all, sex only sells if you want a job in the adult entertainment industry.
But posting suggestive videos of yourself on YouTube, filling your Facebook page with photos of your latest beer bong-a-thon, or blogging about how much you wish your current employer would implode, aren't the only ways to blow your chances of landing a new job. (Yes, Virginia, like it or not, hiring managers do Google you.)
Some digital deal breakers are less obvious. So, if you're thinking about using a personal site, an online resume, a job search site, or a social networking site to woo potential employers, listen up.
In case no one's enlightened you, IM-speak like "would luv 2 work 4 u!" has no place in your cover letters, even those you e-mail or submit through a job search site like Monster. Same goes for smiley faces and any variation of the acronym "LOL."
But it's not just the text message set who make the mistake of letting down their digital guard while job hunting.
Nicole Cox, director of recruitment for Decision Toolbox, an online recruiting firm based in Irvine, Calif., found herself less than impressed with a candidate who entered his resume in the company's online database -- along with the username "Sexpig."
"It's amazing that candidates don't think about the employer or recruiting firm having access to the data," Cox said.
Another one that gets recruiters chuckling: Candidates who post their resume on a job board and mark it "confidential" (presumably because they don't want their boss to know they're shopping around) but forget to remove their name and current company data.
Then there's the pesky matter of overly personal e-mail handles.
"Don't use something like 'email@example.com' or 'firstname.lastname@example.org' when you're sending out resumes or corresponding with possible employers," advised Beth Morgan, founder of ConnectNC, Inc., a Web design and hosting firm in Southern Pines, N.C. "It tells me you're not very smart."
A survey conducted in April by staffing firm Robert Half International found that 62 percent of senior executives from the nation's 1,000 largest companies believe that professional networking sites like LinkedIn will play a significant role in their recruiting during the next three years.