The Internet knows everything, and based on what you’ve put out there, it knows a whole lot about you. Whether you like it or not, we live in an age where a few clicks can pull up a person’s entire profile, which means that one crass post can make or break your public image.
This is why it’s important to always have a good, clean online presence, especially if you’re trying to get yourself hired. If you think you have a bit of digital housekeeping to do before you submit that resume, then check out these tips that we’ve listed to help you.
1. Google yourself.
Before anything else, see what the Internet has to say about you. Are you searchable? If so, do your search results link to decent information, or to photos about the last time you got wasted?
Checking your background by googling your name is probably the very first thing that your prospective employers will do to see what kind of person you are, so make sure that what they see are things that will put you in a good light. You can also try it on other search engines, such as Yahoo! and Bing.
2. Have a wholesome social media presence.
Let’s face it: social media is open to everybody. That means that whatever you post is for public consumption, and at some point may be accessible to people who you haven’t intended it to be. To avoid giving a not-so-stellar impression of yourself, be wholesome on your chosen platforms. You can still be fun without being too crass.
3. Adjust your privacy settings.
Although social media is a technically free-for-all, adjusting the privacy settings of your accounts can help a great deal with filtering who can see the things you post and with how it will appear on search engine results. It may be tedious, but it can help in keeping unwanted eyes off your private life.
4. Close accounts that you haven’t been using in a while.
When was the last time you posted on LiveJournal? If you don’t remember, then maybe it’s high time to back everything up and close your account. Cleaning up your digital footprints may help lessen the chances of your future employer digging up skeletons from your closet.
5. Start a professional webspace.
Many dot coms are now pretty cheap, especially if you go with the format “www.yourname.com.” Why not get a domain, pay for hosting, and create your own online presence? This is most applicable for artists, designers, and writers who have portfolios to share. Setting up a website, a blog, or a LinkedIn account can help direct people to a space providing professional information on you, which can help up your chances of getting hired. Just make sure to always keep your posts updated!
6. Think before you post.
Now that you’ve managed to streamline your online presence, what’s important is maintenance, and the first step to maintaining good standing is to think before you post. Ask yourself if what you’ll be putting out there can potentially bite you in the fanny when the time comes before typing in anything. After all, preventing an awkward, career-breaking situation is better than diffusing one.
Not convinced all this effort is necessary, especially if you’re not looking for a job at the moment? Remember that people can lose jobs over the things they post online. Even if it’s not as extreme, your boss may give you a talking-to or you may receive disciplinary action from HR if your online image (and that includes your posts as well as the posts of you by other people) does not comply with your company’s code of conduct. And it’s always a good idea to make sure there’s nothing publicly viewable that you wouldn’t be comfortable with strangers (potential employers or not) seeing when they try to learn more about you.
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Charlene works for a popular greeting card company, hoping that what she writes makes some big, burly man somewhere cry. She's into MMA, and when she's not watching armbars on YouTube, she also writes for a tech blog or naps with her cat.