1. A Line Exists Between Fun and Unprofessional
The people that you are looking to impress (i.e. potential or current employers) already know about your online presence and behavior, but why would you risk posting information about yourself that may potentially derail you from your next great opportunity, whether it is a new job or an advancement?
A VP of a certain company’s HR decided not to extend an offer to a particular candidate after coming across the candidate’s Tumblr account that features posts that detailed how best to roll a joint. It is not the kind of image that your future place of employment would like to see when evaluating your professionalism.
2. Audit Your Online Images
Don’t be afraid to check yourself out. Does the picture in your LinkedIn profile portray the right message about you? Here is a hint: The image you choose should definitely not be the very same one that you have chosen for your Tinder profile. You should ideally choose an image that’s professional-looking, but not boring.
Executive Atkins Graduates say that slice-of-life pictures depicting you doing something interesting, such as posing in front of the Eiffel Tower or hiking in the mountains as opposed to the expected headshot are ideal. While at it, you should ensure that you sanitize (get rid of) any other profile pictures and albums that are in your Facebook archive that you probably wouldn’t like your future boss seeing.
3. Make It Private
Always double-check your privacy settings across all your profiles. It is one thing for your potential employer to be able to find your Facebook account and view your profile picture, but it is a completely different thing for him/her to be able to browse through your feed and scroll through all your (what should ideally be) private photos.
It is also important to remember that companies can and actually change their policies at any particular time, which may result in information that was previously private being revealed. Whether private or not, the best option would be not to put anything out there that’s likely to be misconstrued. You need to get rid of anything that’s questionable.
Keep in mind that hiring managers use social media to get more information about you and corroborate items on your resume or things said during the interview. So, for instance, if your resume states that you are a marketing professional with years of marketing experience, but your LinkedIn profile shows that your background is in IT, this may raise doubts about the skills that you actually possess.
If you choose to highlight some experiences while downplaying others, that’s perfectly fine, but you need to be consistent about it. The same applies to dates on your LinkedIn profile and your resume – they should match if you want to portray your credibility.
5. Soapboxing Should Be Kept to a Minimum
Just as your online photos are likely to convey an image of you that does not suit what potential employers might be looking for, so can your written words as well. It is always advisable to keep you online commentary and opinions relatively non-controversial.
For instance, a blog post about the best national parks for an adventure vacation is far less likely to be offensive than one about your position on the legalization of marijuana. It is okay to take a political stand, but ensure that you are classy about it. Spewing profanities about the party that you don’t support rather than a clear statement that describes your beliefs is not only immature but also off-putting.
If you are not sure whether or not it is okay to post something, you should take it as a sign that you probably should not be posting it. If you have had several drinks and feel emboldened by a buzz, it can be better for you to sleep on it and decide in the clear light of morning whether you still wish to express that opinion publicly.
6. Google Yourself
If you would like to know what potential employers are likely to discover about you, just do the exact thing they are likely to do: Google yourself. It is a great way to identify any remaining things that you may want to delete or change.
If need be, you can enlist a service such as ReputationDefender for professional social media support. The service creates positive search results on your behalf. It might be nerve-wracking to imagine your current manager checking out your online presence, but that’s all the more reason why you need to get your digital self in order. You may even proactively generate content about yourself too, by building a simple personal website, or publishing on Medium or LinkedIn Pulse.
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