5 Tips to Manage Your Online Identity
A clean online profile and the right connections to people who give positive pronouncements about your skills can be a catalyst for landing interviews and jobs. Career networking on the Web ranges from professionals joining networks like LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Ryze to posting their resumes on blogs. Unfortunately, an online profile with unbecoming or inappropriate content can jeopardize your search efforts. "A professional's online presence is becoming more relevant to a job search," says Career Counselor Toby Paulson. "Although networking sites, message boards, and blogs can be catalysts, job seekers need to temper their ambition with discretion." Here are five tips on how to manage your online identity to get the maximum career benefits.
Tip #1 Google Yourself to See What You Find
The best way to "head things off at the pass" is to get into the mindset of a hiring manager and google yourself to see what comes up. Keep an eye out for anything that could be seen as a red flag and public information that may be lost in translation. For example, if you describe yourself as a "work hard, play hard" type and post a picture that shows you with a drink in your hand, the image will damage your message.
Tip #2 "Friend" Your Grandmother or Post Like You Have
Others can also help monitor your online profile as well. One tactic is to include someone you would never dream of offending among your friends or contacts. "I invited my mother to be my friend on Facebook," says Louise Abnee, a college student on the verge of graduating. "It gives me an incentive to be responsible and keep my profile clean."
Tip #3 Adjust Your Privacy Settings
Keep the settings on your networks as private as possible, and monitor the messages others leave on your walls and comment boards. One effective way to do this is to arrange with a friend to periodically check each other's online profile and keep track of potentially offensive material.
Tip #4 Remove Negative Information
For younger people who have immersed themselves in technology, negative material may already exist or can be found using search engines. Bad language, revealing photos, and off color journal entries can negatively influence potential employers who are researching your character. "Posting negative comments about former employers is never a good idea," cautions Paulson. Even in the midst of a long job search, be sure your online postings are upbeat and hopeful.
Tip #5 Replace the Negative With Positive
One solution to negative information is to combat it with positive, accurate, current facts. Create a blog or Facebook or MySpace page that establishes a professional online identity and puts a good spin on your abilities. Think of your blog as similar to your resume, which documents what you have done or know. A blog is a more detailed format focused on and demonstrating your expertise. Positives make you a more lucrative candidate and one that potential employers will want on their team.