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Hiring Managers View Private Online Data with Spokeo

Spokeo is one of the most popular search engines that human resources (HR) departments use. If you’re seeking a job at a larger company, chances are the hiring manager will put your name into this tool for any last-minute background checks.

Spokeo pulls your name and other contact information from a huge database of public records to put together a demographic profile of you. And, yes, as unnerving as it sounds, results include your estimated income, political party, marriage status (and spouse’s name), number of kids, and other personal data based on your zip code.

The results in Spokeo (or any other people search) are only as good as the sources of data the program pulls from. Spokeo draws assumptions about you based on its algorithm, so the assumptions may not be 100 percent accurate. Hiring managers know the results can be flaky, so they take them with a grain of salt. They’re simply looking for any red flags that they can double-check on later.

To discover whether your name is associated with any red flags, run it through a Spokeo search and see what comes up. You’ll likely see other people with your name. Find yourself in the results and see how accurate your profile is.

In some cases, you may discover that your name doesn’t appear at all. Although this scenario may please your inner privacy fan, it may not please the hiring manager trying to find out more about you. If you’re in this situation, you may need to work twice as hard as the next guy to build your reputation simply because you don’t have an online presence.

Even if you can’t change Spokeo’s results, at least you can know what other people are seeing about you, which gives you the opportunity to bring it up. Consider keeping it light, such as, “Well if you think I earn $250,000 a year, have five kids, and live in a mansion based on some online searches for my name, then this salary negotiation may be the best I’ve ever had!”

You can see only basic information from Spokeo for free. If you want a full report, you have to cough up a yearly fee.

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