If you’re on the job market right now, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a competitive environment. The number of available jobs has dwindled, and the number of applicants for those jobs has risen substantially. With so much competition, job applicants need to be super vigilant about the persona that they project online, because many employers are using Google as a tool for vetting applicants.

According to Business Week:

Googling people is also becoming a way for bosses and headhunters to do continuous and stealthy background checks on employees, no disclosure required. Google is an end run around discrimination laws, inasmuch as employers can find out all manner of information — some of it for a nominal fee — that is legally off limits in interviews: your age, your marital status, the value of your house (along with an aerial photograph of it), the average net worth of your neighbors, fraternity pranks, stuff you wrote in college, liens, bankruptcies, political affiliations, and the names and ages of your children . . .

Today there are two of you. There’s the analog, warm-blooded version: the person who presses flesh at business conferences and interprets the corporate kabuki in meetings. Then there’s the online you, your digital doppelgänger; that’s the one that is growing larger and more impossible to control every day.

Online personas are an issue for everyone, not just job seekers. If you think that it’s a good idea to post picture of yourself taking a bong rip on your Facebook profile, you clearly lack good judgment, and a potential employer is totally within their rights not to hire you. Anyone who posts to Facebook or Twitter during office hours, even if they do it from their phone, should expect to get hauled into the boss’s office. If you talk smack about your current employer online, even if you’re posting outside of business hours, you should also expect to get disciplined. And if that information stays online (which it will, because nothing on the web is ever truly deleted), it could effect your attractiveness to future employers.

Tomorrow I’ll have some tips for cleaning up your online persona. For today, I’d love to hear from you: are you a boss who uses Google searches as a way to vet job applicants, or to monitor your current employees? If so, what have you found online?