Polished Resume? Check!….Clean and Pressed Interview Suit? Check!…Online Reputation Clean? …Wait, what???
So you may be saying to yourself, my social media is my business, and what I do with my personal time has no bearing on my work behavior. Moreover, while the concept of legitimately separating your work persona and life outside your office/desk/workspace is certainly valid, the reality is not so cut and dry.
These days, employers are pretty much guaranteed to google your name to see what you look like to the outside world before making a hiring decision. They are not so much looking to get your personal details, but instead, use the virtual side of your personality and lifestyle to look for inconsistencies in your story and to make sure that your behaviors are in line with their company values. In other words, your online reputation matters, so be aware that it is important come job seeking time. Do what you can to clean it up and make it consistent with your professional image.
So the point here isn’t to create fake profiles that employers want to see (that is what resumes are for, right?) The point is to be sure your online reputation is under your control, demonstrates stability and consistency, paints a proper picture of you as the person you are, and is reasonably free from unbecoming behaviors. After all, you are your own brand, online and off, so controlling your virtual presence is ultimately part of your professional job. Social media has opened up (or merged together) your ‘’at work’’ and ‘’at home’’ personality by its very nature. So be acutely aware that what you do and show online can and will influence your attractiveness to employers.
For example. If your resume boldly states: “I love helping animals” – your Instagram should show you volunteering at the local shelter (at least once.) If it says “I am a successful entrepreneur and accomplished freelancer” – nix those complaint posts about the agony of living in your parent’s basement and eating ramen noodles while you wait for your next gig. “Passionate about surfing” – be sure to have some killer wave photos and follow some major surfing brands. Comment on things you like and work with groups with whom you have similar interests.
To aid you in the task at hand, here are some quick tips to help you with improving your online reputation
Say Goodbye. Don’t use old social media accounts? Just delete them. If they do not serve a purpose, bid them farewell. Adios, Myspace. Don’t just leave your old unused accounts out on the internet collecting dust, it is better to control your online presence than to let the internet do it for you.
Google Yourself. Do what an employer would do – drop in your name, hometown, last job – any simple keywords an employer might take time to enter. See what comes up and assess the impact it may have. It is not rocket science, and employers rarely do deep scans. What floats to the top is most impactful so be sure it is good stuff. If not, move on to the next step!
Delete: Complaints about work, angst speech (even if mild and or political), rants of any kind that aren’t intelligent or coherent, or any/all images of you behaving irresponsibly. Deliver them to the recycling bucket in the sky. Sure, that profile photo of you doing shots of Fireball off an ice luge at a frat party is pretty funny, but think about the message it sends to a potential hiring manager.
Lend yourself to Linkedin. Use this forum to support your professional story. Keep it professional but feel free to let on a bit more about your personal interests and ideas. Above all, be sure the information in it closely reflects that of your resume. Padding a few dates here and there to cover a gap in employment may seem wise at the time, but be sure your information is not found to be misleading or contradictory. Remember the fine print on most job applications that states that any information delivered on that resume that may be false is grounds for immediate termination. So even a little white lie can come back to bite you, ensure consistency in your professional persona.
Privatize. You should always follow the rule: what goes on the internet tends to stay on the internet, forever. Keep that in mind when making posts. Yes, we are sorry to say, this can also include anonymous programs like snapchat. While not everything makes it is way into the public eye, there is always potential for nefarious hackers to intercept any data sent electronically. Luckily, there are some ways to keep things quiet(er) to the outside world. Setting your profile access to private on sites like Facebook and Instagram will typically prevent those whom you do not specifically grant permission to from accessing your information and posts. While the best defense is a good offense (don’t post anything you would not want an employer to see) keeping your online profiles open only to friends is a good idea. If you are addicted to social media and love the buzz of sharing, just remember to keep it positive.
Watch the #hashtags. Sharing a hashtagged post to the world is great fun, aligning your experience directly with those with similar experiences. However, remember that the social aspect of the hashtag is specifically to share amongst others – many of which you may not know. Think of it as a forever archive, so be aware when dropping tags.
Delete the Apps. Remember that funny facebook quiz you took on which animal most resembles you? Very likely in that process, you granted access to your Facebook data and installed an app. These apps are essentially online spies that can worm their way around your privacy settings and gain access to some of your data. As a matter of good online practice, regularly delete any and all apps you do not use or recognize. Use the link above as a guide to get it done! Make a mistake and delete something you use? No worries, you can always reinstall. However,