Unless you’ve been very diligent about keeping yourself out of the social revolution, chances are you have some sort of digital identity out there. The social networking sites and communities you’ve joined; the comments you’ve made on websites under your own name; the pictures of you tagged on friends’ websites and profiles.
In today’s world, where potential employers are Googling every applicant—and in many cases doing full online background checks—these online presences are more than just reflections of ourselves, they’re our personal brands. How you manage yours can go a long way toward your success in the job hunt. It’s not too difficult to make sure your personal online brand leaves a positive reflection on anyone who comes across it.
Privacy is your friend. If you participate in social media, there’s really no such thing as true privacy. The whole point behind social networking is to get out there and share and communicate with others. However, you don’t want to share everything.
- Take the time to go through your pictures, and remove any that you wouldn’t want your mother—or a VP of human resources—to see. Remove tags from pictures showing you in any compromising situations. Your buddies might love that picture of you chugging a pitcher of beer at the local pub, but it doesn’t do a whole lot for your professional image. Better still, set the privacy level of your pictures so that only your friends can see them—at least while you’re applying for jobs.
- Police your wall comments a little more than you usually might. Off-color jokes, rude or inappropriate comments, or raunchy videos can put potential employers off—even if they weren’t posted by you.
- Make sure the information you post about yourself (interests, favorite quotes, etc.) is a good reflection of the professional image you want to project. Homemade bong creation may have been a fine hobby while you were in school, but it’s doubtful that it’ll win you any brownie points with employers. Your LinkedIn profile, obviously, should reflect your professional goals, but even your Facebook profile should show you as a career-minded professional: again, at least as long as you’re job-hunting.
- Watch yourself on Twitter. Remember that once it’s out there, there’s no bringing it back. Before you hit “Tweet,” re-read what you’ve written and make sure it’s something you’d be OK with an employer reading.
The best way to manage your online presence is to host it yourself. That means creating your own website, independent of your Facebook profile, your LinkedIn profile, your Flickr page, your Tumblr page, and everything else. Hosting and creating your own website is relatively simple—even for beginners—and it gives you total control over what’s displayed. And it gives you another perk as well: an email address that ends in @yourname.com, which looks a lot better than one from one of the free services. Of course, even if you have your own website you’ll still have to be aware of your social media profiles, but it’s a great way to go the extra mile, give employers a hub to find everything about you, and show that you’re competent with basic web publishing.
Like it or not, our online presences are becoming more and more important in real life. You can resist it all you like, you can pretend your social networking profiles don’t affect your job search or that employers aren’t looking you up online, but the faster you realize that your virtual self can be as important as your real self, the better your job prospects will be. – Original post by myFootpath’s Nate Abbott