Spellcheck puts a red squiggly line under the word “Googling.” Similarly, I confess that, until recently, I failed to accept the correctness of Googling my candidates. Of course I’ve always researched the professional qualifications of any attorney we recommend to a client. But I’d rather not know how you spend your limited amount of personal time. I feel like it’s none of my business.

Well, I’m making it my business now. My change of heart came when one of our clients unearthed some online information about a candidate we had presented for consideration. To protect confidentiality (yes, I get the irony), I’m not going to get into details here. Let’s just say that “goofy” would be a kind word to describe what our candidate was doing with her weekends.

I don’t like the look of egg when it splatters so prominently on my face. So while I might not enjoy playing Big Brother straight out of George Orwell’s classic, I have no choice. I need to know everything that is “out there” about you.

Actually, I’m going to do much more than just Google you. If I can get to your Facebook page, I will. If you are blogging about anything, I’m going to read it. The stakes are high when it comes to hiring general counsel and other senior attorneys. Companies want as much information on you as possible.

So, the game is on, and I’m learning the rules fast. I’m pretty good at games, as you can see for yourself if you choose to Google me–I brag about winning poker tournaments on my Facebook page.

I don’t think I run the risk of losing any clients by going public with my poker record. But who knows? Maybe I should take my poker discussions offline? I now regularly research myself and my firm online, making sure our Web presence is accurate.

I encourage you to stay aware of your online image as well. Is there anything “out there” that might trip up your chances of a promotion or landing a new job?

This is the first in a two part series on the relationship between your career and Web 2.0. The career advice here is pretty simple: Be careful. Next month I’m going to focus on the positive aspects of online social and professional networking. I hope to offer a helpful idea or two that will be new and useful for you. You can definitely use Web 2.0 to enhance your credibility, draw attention from recruiters and build a presence for yourself professionally. Truly effective strategies go well beyond resum? databases or posting a profile on LinkedIn. Stay tuned.