An increasing number of employers are using social networking sites and online search engines to research job applicants. Similar to your resume, your online profile creates an image of you to a potential employer, so it is critical to make sure you make a good impression on anyone who discovers you online. Consider these tips to help manage and protect your online reputation.
Choose Content Carefully
Every word you post online is permanent, so you must be conscious of what you are sharing. Always assume that your comments could be seen by someone they were not intended for. Be aware of the impression your photos, comments, emails, tweets and updates are making to reduce the likelihood of being perceived as irresponsible, inappropriate or unprofessional.
Adjust Your Privacy Settings
It’s a good idea to limit the amount of personal information available about you online. Most photo-sharing and social networking sites allow you to restrict who can view and comment on your content, so check your privacy settings to ensure what you’re sharing with others is appropriate. Remember that information you share online could be made public or accessible to others without your consent.
Monitor the Comments of Others
Even if you carefully manage your own disclosures, unintentionally harmful content may be posted about you by others. You may be tagged in unflattering photos or videos by your friends or have comments written about you that you would not want an employer to view. The interconnectedness of the web makes it easy for this ‘private’ content to be found, so be sure to monitor and remove items that should not be made public.
Determine Public vs. Private Content
If you are using social media for both personal (family/friends) and professional (networking with colleagues) purposes, ensure what you share is appropriate for both groups. Are you comfortable having employers read your personal updates? Are you happy subjecting friends to work-related posts? If you want to keep your public and private lives separate, think about making distinct personal and professional social networking accounts, or set up filters to customize who sees certain updates.
Build Your Professional Presence
Take a proactive approach to managing what potential employers will find about you online. Do you have a professional blog or website? Are you a member of an online industry association? Are you a regular contributor to respected forums? Do you have an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn? Do you belong to relevant groups and have quality online networks? Increasing the favorable content about you on the web will help you build a more positive online image.